TOWNSEND — Property owners waiting to hear about financial aid to cover April’s flood damages do not have to wait any longer, but the news isn’t all good.
Townsend Emergency Management Agency Director Shirley Coit had been hopeful that Townsend residents would receive grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A few weeks after FEMA’s visit, Coit received official word.
“We have been informed that we’re not available for FEMA grants because we didn’t receive enough in damage per population,” said Coit. “Damage is assessed by county and Middlesex County didn’t come close to the needed cost.”
Essex County did qualify for FEMA grants.
“We probably had a similar amount of damage,” said Coit, “But the percentages didn’t work out.”
Since the Boston area is part of Middlesex County, a higher amount of damage is needed to qualify. Townsend residents are not left without any options, however.
“Because we’re contiguous with Essex County, we are extended low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA),” said Coit.
The low-interest loans are available to everyone in town who had flood damage including businesses, home owners and renters.
“This is designed to help people pay for items not covered in their insurance plans,” said Coit.
If the structural damage to a home is covered by an insurance plan, but other damaged items were not, the owner could receive a loan from the SBA to cover the costs.
The loans carry less than 3 percent interest and can be extended up to 30 years depending on the amount borrowed.
People affected by the flood who are interested in the loans should call the SBA directly at (800) 659-2955.
The deadline for filing is July 6 and the phone call is only the first step in the application process.
“There’s a two- to three-week turnaround, so people really need to get on this,” said Coit.
The initial phone call should only take a few minutes but follow-up information, including documented proof of damages, will be needed. Documentation can include pictures of damages, or receipts for replaced items.
“Documentation will speed the process, but if you don’t have it you still want to call because we can work on getting the documentation afterward,” said Coit.
The April storm was well-documented by the town and several exterior shots of flooded homes were filed.
If similar flooding or other storm damage were to happen, Coit wants people to remember the importance of documentation.
“Receipts and photographs are absolutely critical to getting proper reimbursement,” said Coit. It’s a point worth remembering since June 1 is the official start of hurricane season.
As for damage reimbursements for April’s flooding, Coit said, “It’s not what we hoped for, but it’s better than nothing.”