The Coastal Empire may have fared better than many communities in its brush with Hurricane Irma, but there is still plenty of pain to go around — from flooded homes and tree damage to the economic impacts of shuttering a business for days.
Luckily, assistance is available in a myriad of forms from a variety of agencies and organizations.
To help our readers and business owners sort through the programs available and find what best suits their situations, we’ve compiled a list of what’s being offered and who qualifies. As other programs become available, this list will be updated online at savannahnow.com.
Register for FEMA assistance
Homeowners, renters and business owners in Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties may register for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from Hurricane Irma.
To be eligible for federal aid under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, storm damage and losses from the hurricane and flooding must have occurred as a result of Hurricane Irma, beginning Sept. 4.
Register at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or through the FEMA app. Applicants will need to provide their Social Security number, daytime phone number, current mailing address and the address — including zip code — of the damaged property; and any private insurance information.
When an applicant registers, each receives a unique registration number. The registration number is important and should be written down and kept handy. Anyone who does not have a registration number is not yet registered.
Registering allows applicants to:Look up an address to find out if it is in an area declared for individual assistance”
Check the status of their application and get updates by SMS or email,
Upload documents to support their application.
FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams are currently canvassing Irma-stricken neighborhoods in the five counties to help residents register for assistance and to quickly identify and address immediate needs.
Mobile team members can be identified by their FEMA clothing and photo IDs. Residents should ask for photo identification before providing any personal information.
HUD offers help to homeowners, renters
The Department of U.S. Housing and Urban Development has announced it will speed federal disaster assistance to those in the five Georgia counties impacted by Irma, providing support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to the storm.
HUD offers foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families including: A 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages for the approximately 11,639 FHA-insured Georgia homeowners living in the impacted counties;
Making mortgage insurance available — HUD’s Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders are eligible for 100-percent financing, including closing costs;
Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation. HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home;
Information on housing providers and HUD programs — The department will share information with FEMA and the state on housing providers that may have available units in the impacted counties. This includes public housing agencies and multi-family owners. The department will also connect FEMA and the state to subject matter experts to provide information on HUD programs and providers;
Assisting state and local governments in re-allocating existing federal resources toward disaster relief. HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs give the State and communities the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars in annual formula funding to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster victims. HUD is currently contacting state and local officials to explore streamlining the Department’s CDBG and HOME programs in order to expedite the repair and replacement of damaged housing; and,
Offering Section 108 loan guarantee assistance. HUD will offer state and local governments federally guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development and repair of public infrastructure.
For more information on HUD disaster resources, go to https://portal.hud.gov/
USDA has help for rural communities
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development arm is providing tools and resources to help rural communities recover from the devastation brought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The emergency procedures provide additional flexibility for Rural Development borrowers and community partners to help them recover as quickly as possible and ensure they have what they need to rebuild their homes, businesses and communities.
Rural Development is helping businesses and utilities that are current USDA borrowers by considering requests to defer principal and/or interest payments, and to provide additional temporary loans. Current USDA single-family home loan customers may also qualify for assistance. Borrowers can contact their local Rural Development office to obtain information on potential assistance. Additional information may be found at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/services/rural-development-disaster-assistance.
IRS, Georgia Revenue Department extend relief
The Internal Revenue Service and the Georgia Department of Revenue is offering tax relief to victims of Hurricane Irma by postponing until Jan. 31, 201 certain deadlines for individuals whose homes or businesses are located in declared disaster areas and have been affected by the disaster.
The postponement applies to return filing, tax payment and other time-sensitive acts as specified by the IRS. This includes taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2016 return that was due to run out on Oct. 16, 2017. It also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments originally due on Sept. 15, 2017, and Jan. 16, 2018, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2017.
The postponement also includes return filing, tax payment, and other time-sensitive acts related to Georgia tax types not administered by the IRS such as Georgia sales and use tax but does not apply to International Fuel Tax Agreement interest.
For more information, go to www.irs.gov.
Free legal help available for Irma victims in Georgia
A disaster legal aid hotline is now available for Hurricane survivors in Georgia who reside in Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties and cannot pay for an attorney. Disaster survivors may call 1-866- 584-8027 (toll free) or (404) 527-8793 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to request assistance.
When connected to the hotline voicemail, callers should identify that they are seeking disaster-related legal assistance, brief details of the assistance needed and in which county they are located. Individuals who qualify for help will be matched with Georgia lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal assistance. Survivors may also request assistance online by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.The type of legal assistance available includes:
Securing FEMA and other benefits,
Making life, medical and property insurance claims,
Dealing with home repair contractors,
Replacing wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the hurricane,
Helping with consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures and
Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems or landlord/tenant issues
SBAC has business loans available
Savannah’s Small Business Assistance Corporation has loans of up to $30,000 available to assist businesses trying to recover from the effects of Hurricane Irma.
Eligible uses include building repair, equipment repair and/or replacement, inventory replacement, bridge loans to insurance claim payment, and operating capital.
Small businesses in Savannah and the surrounding counties of Chatham, Bryan, Bulloch, Effingham, Liberty, and Long can apply for the storm recovery loans. In South Carolina, the counties of Hampton, Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, and Dorchester also are eligible for assistance.
Qualified borrowers must be an existing business with a 2016 business tax return and a current business license.
The SBAC offers loans of up to $30,000 for a term of up to 36 months, with amortized principal and interest at a 7 percent rate. All loans are subject to availability of funds and prudent business lending practices. There is also a zero interest express loan - up to$5,000 for six months - for those businesses that need a quick kick-start to re-open.