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USA: Hurricane Ike update: $316 million to Texans for disaster recovery

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Release Number: 1791-148

AUSTIN, Texas -- Five weeks after Hurricane Ike made landfall, state and federal financial assistance to help homeowners, renters and businesses recover from uninsured and underinsured losses exceeds $316 million.

The grants for individuals in 34 Texas counties and low-interest disaster loans for individuals and businesses of all sizes are authorized under President Bush's Sept. 13 disaster declaration.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Governor's Division of Emergency Management (GDEM) have been working together since the first emergency declaration for Hurricane Ike on Sept. 7.

An additional $15 million has been obligated under FEMA's Public Assistance Program, which can reimburse state agencies and local governments and certain nonprofit organizations in 35 Texas counties for eligible disaster-related debris removal and emergency protective measures. Twenty-four of those counties are also designated for permanent repairs and replacement of disaster-damaged infrastructure.

"We report assistance in dollars, but we measure the success of disaster recovery when people begin to resume everyday activities in their communities," Federal Coordinating Officer Sandy Coachman said. "Positive changes are taking place every day, but there is still a lot to do and we will be here in partnership with the state for as long as it takes."

State and federal disaster staff have been reaching out in many ways. In the first month, Disaster Recovery Center staff went out to 62 communities. The first "centers" set up in commercial parking lots three days after Ike made landfall were operated from converted recreational vehicles that FEMA uses as mobile registration intake centers. Other sites used for Disaster Recovery Centers have included municipal office buildings, space in shopping centers and churches.

"We've seen 66,000 people come in for face-to-face help at these locations," State Coordinating Officer Joan Haun said. "We will continue to keep them open where they're needed."

FEMA, SBA and other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), staff the centers to help Texans with questions about disaster assistance, loan applications and other resources.

Here are some disaster assistance statistics as of close of business Thursday, Oct. 16:

- $261 million approved in grants for individuals. Of that, more than $216 million was for housing and more than $45 million for other disaster-related needs.

- $55.4 million in disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Of that, $50.1 million was for home loans and $5.3 million for businesses.

- More than 703,000 individuals have applied for disaster assistance by going online to www.fema.gov or by calling FEMA's toll-free number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The TTY number is 1-800-462-7585.

- Nearly 306,000 damaged properties have been reviewed by FEMA inspectors.

Homeowners, renters and businesses in designated counties who sustained damages and losses that were uninsured or underinsured have until Nov. 11 to register for disaster assistance with FEMA and to apply for SBA low-interest disaster loans.

The 34 Texas counties designated for Individual Assistance are: Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller, and Washington.

Public Assistance reimbursement for eligible emergency work and debris removal is available to government entities and certain nonprofit agencies in Austin, Grimes, Jasper, Jefferson, Madison, Nacogdoches, Sabine, San Jacinto, Walker, Waller and Washington counties.

Angelina, Aransas, Burleson, Brazoria, Chambers, Cherokee, Galveston, Fort Bend, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Rusk, San Augustine, San Patricio, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler counties are designated for all categories of Public Assistance, which includes permanent repair and replacement of disaster-damaged infrastructure.

More information about this disaster is available online at www.fema.gov or www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.