Two weeks out: Tornado victims face looming FEMA deadline

More than 15 confirmed tornadoes struck the Dayton region and parts of West Central Ohio late on the evening of Memorial Day, destroying or seriously damaging 2,200 structures in Montgomery County alone, according to data provided by county officials.

MORE: Local tornado victims slow to get FEMA aid approval

If you live in one of the 11 designated counties approved for assistance – Montgomery, Greene, Mercer, Miami, Perry, Muskingum, Pickaway, Mahoning, Auglaize, Hocking and Darke – time is running out to get help, according to FEMA External Affairs Officer Leo Skinner.

“We still have survivors with insurance settlements to submit,” Skinner said. “And we are encouraging renters who where displaced from one of the many apartment complexes to register with FEMA for possible rental assistance.”

President Donald Trump issued a Presidential Disaster Declaration on June 18, opening up federal assistance for individuals and businesses. As of Friday, FEMA had received 5,805 registrations.

Montgomery County led the way with 4,040, followed by Mahoning with 860, Greene at 524 and Miami, 108, Mercer (92), Muskingum (51), Pickaway (37), Hocking (30), Perry (24), Auglaize (22) and Darke (17).

FEMA expected about 6,400 applications after a record 21 tornadoes touched down in Ohio on Memorial Day, and officials say about $3.9 million has been approved in individual assistance grants so far.

MORE: New property survey shows extent of tornado destruction

Skinner said it is important for those who have doubts about whether they can receive assistance to apply by the deadline to at least qualify for help and to learn what kind of help is available.

He noted that those who think that signing up with the Red Cross or county officials for help automatically submits their claims to FEMA for assistance are wrong.

“It does not,” Skinner said. “You have to directly register with FEMA.”

Some survivors may have more significant damage and will need a larger amount of money to help with their recovery. For those situations, a low-interest disaster loan from the SBA may be the best option.

For homeowners and renters, so far, the SBA has approved over $18 million in disaster loans and has received more than 1,300 applications for assistance in the Ohio counties declared for disaster assistance said Dorris Evans, an SBA spokeswoman.

“Montgomery County disaster survivors have been approved for over $10 million in disaster loans, and Montgomery County residents have submitted over 900 hundred loan applications for federal disaster assistance,” Evans said.

The most important thing for disaster survivors that need disaster assistance is to first register with FEMA, and if referred by FEMA to the SBA for a loan, apply for the SBA loan to continue the process according to Evans.

Locally, SBA offices can be found at the Dayton Children’s Hospital, 1010 Valley St.; Trotwood-Madison High School, 4440 North Union Rd. (which closes permanently August 8); Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce, 3210 Beaver Vu Drive; and the Harrison Township Community Center, 5945 N. Dixie Drive, Dayton. The centers are open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To register with FEMA, go to disasterassistance.gov. For those referred to the SBA, begin the application process at disasterloan.sba.gov.

MORE: Centerville seeks FEMA reimbursement for tornado-relief efforts

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