Deadline to apply for disaster relief coming soon

Published 1:21 pm Monday, June 13, 2011

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

COLUMBIANA — Only 251 private residents in Shelby County have applied for disaster relief funds after a parade of tornadoes ravaged Alabama in April and May, and the deadline to apply for relief is coming up fast, said FEMA representative John Hinds.

Of the 251 Shelby County residents that have applied, 187 were granted a home or property inspection, and 22 of those received disaster funds totaling $52,787.

Also, 153 Shelby County residents applied for housing assistance, and 15 of those received funds totaling $46,919.

Those numbers are a tiny fraction of the applications and funds distributed across the state. In Alabama, 81,139 people have applied for disaster relief, while 49,772 applied for housing assistance. FEMA has awarded Alabama citizens approximately $53.5 million in disaster relief and about $38.1 million in housing assistance.

Hinds said June 27 is the deadline for all citizens to apply for disaster relief of any kind resulting from the tornadoes between April 15 and May 31 of this year.

Those affected by tornadoes can also apply for Other Needs Assistance, which can cover miscellaneous costs caused by a tornado, such as lost or destroyed medications or medical equipment, dental costs or even funeral costs if a relative died in tornado weather.

Those needing assistance can apply by calling 1-800-621-3362 or at

“It takes about 10 minutes to apply,” Hinds said.

He said if applicants don’t get a favorable response from property inspectors, there’s still hope.

“When you get a letter back after the inspector has looked at your property, that’s not a final decision,” he said. “You can always appeal with more information.”

Hinds also urged those affected by tornadoes to watch out for contractors and others looking to prey on victims.

“Make sure contracts are signed by both sides and that you know what’s in a contract,” he said.

Lastly, Hinds said all citizens must remember tornado season has just begun.

“This tornado season will be stronger than those in the past. If at all possible, go ahead and get a weather radio,” he said. “Get one that’s hand-cranked, so if the power goes out, you can still use it.”