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FEMA Funding 101 Navigating Rough Seas of Federal Disaster Assistance

 When Superstorm Sandy hit the New England states last fall, the U.S. Department  of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was quick to offer federal disaster  assistance to the states affected to supplement the local recovery efforts that  arose in the storm’s wake.  

 For example, in the aftermath of Sandy, 12,380 Connecticut residents filed  claims with FEMA and over $50 million in aid was approved for disaster relief.  In Massachusetts, six counties in the Commonwealth were eligible for federal  aid and several counties in Rhode Island also applied for disaster assistance  as well. In January, FEMA officials said $6 million had been paid on 1,020  claims made in Rhode Island; it was unclear how many more claims remained to be  processed or how much more disaster relief was being sought in the state.  

 But hurricanes aren’t the only disaster that FEMA funds can help. Tornadoes, floods and even  hailstorms can cause enough damage that brings the federal funding into play.  

 The state of Maine was recently awarded funds by FEMA to supplement state,  tribal and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter  storm, snowstorm, and flooding of February 8 to 9. Similarly, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire were all  designated as disaster areas for the same storm and some federal funding was  also available for emergency work.  

 Daniel T. Vindigni, assistant town manager and director of emergency management  for the town of Enfield, Connecticut, explains that disaster assistance is  financial or direct assistance to individuals and families whose property has  been damaged or destroyed as a result of a federally-declared disaster, and  whose losses are not covered by insurance. It is meant to help you with  critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways.  

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