U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today wrote a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate urging him to designate all storm-affected counties in Alabama to be eligible for Individual Assistance (IA), a program created to meet various needs of individual disaster victims as they seek to recover from tragic events.
On Wednesday, April, 27, 2011, an unprecedented tornado system struck the State of Alabama, claiming hundreds of lives and destroying countless homes and businesses. Last night, President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for the State of Alabama. While such a declaration provides federal assistance to state and local governments whose capacity to respond to a disaster is exceeded by the magnitude thereof, IA ensures the needs of individual victims are met. Although broad swaths of Alabama were devastated, only ten counties to date have been deemed eligible for IA through FEMA.
Through IA, individuals may be eligible for federal assistance to help recover necessary expenses and accommodate serious needs that cannot be met through insurance or other forms of state or local disaster assistance. Examples are housing, personal property, medical, dental, funeral, transportation and required flood insurance premiums incurred as a result of the disaster. Most federal assistance provided through IA is in the form of low interest loans. These loans are offered to eligible individuals, farmers and businesses to repair or replace damaged property and personal belongings not covered by insurance. People who do not qualify for loans may be able to apply for a cash grant, the average of which is between $2,000 and $4,000. IA also includes a housing assistance program to ensure that people whose homes are damaged by disaster have a safe place to live until repairs can be completed.
The full text of Sen. Shelby’s letter to Administrator Fugate is below.
April 29, 2011
Administrator W. Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation for your traveling to Alabama with me yesterday and with President Obama again today to survey the immense destruction that the tornado system unleashed upon the state earlier this week.
As we witnessed firsthand during your visit to Alabama, the damage to the state has been devastating. I am grateful that you took decisive action and worked with President Obama to quickly issue a major disaster declaration for the state of Alabama and provide Individual Assistance to eight counties last night and two additional counties today. However, I remain concerned that the limited number of counties that have been designated to receive Individual Assistance does not reflect the totality of areas that were devastated by the storm system. Tornadoes damaged houses and businesses across Alabama, and recovery efforts in the state will be ongoing for years to come. Furthermore, the financial and emotional strains on individuals, families, businesses, and local governments throughout our state will persist long after the memories of the devastation fade in the minds of people unaffected by the storms.
As the federal government’s response to this natural disaster continues, I encourage you to designate all storm-affected counties in Alabama to be eligible for Individual Assistance. Taking this action will ensure that individuals and families receive the support necessary to recover from these tragic events and begin to rebuild their communities.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of assistance.