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Homeowners and renters in Cooke County who sustained damage from last week's winter storm and associated power outages and water woes may apply for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If you have insurance and are applying for disaster assistance, you must also file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance, according to a FEMA press release. If insurance does not cover all your damage, you may be eligible for federal assistance.

The fastest and easiest way to apply is by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov.

If it is not possible to register online, call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585). The toll-free telephone lines operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central time, seven days a week. Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, Innocaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service.

Residents in Montague and Denton counties are also eligible, according to the release.

When you apply for assistance, have the following information readily available:

—A current phone number where you can be contacted

—Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying

—Your Social Security number, if available

—A general list of damage and losses

—If insured, the insurance policy number, or the agent and company name

If it is safe to do so, the agency advises to start cleaning up now. Take photos to document damage and begin cleanup and repairs to prevent further damage. Remember to keep receipts from all purchases related to the cleanup and repair.

Disaster assistance may include financial assistance for temporary lodging and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

SBA loans also available

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are available to businesses, homeowners and renters, too.

In consideration of the public health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic, on Tuesday, Feb. 23, the SBA will establish a Virtual Business Recovery Center to provide personalized assistance to business owners. In addition, SBA will also open a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center to help homeowners and renters.

Customer Service Representatives will be available to business owners and individuals to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each person complete their electronic loan application.

The information centers will operate 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time and are reachable by email at FOCWAssistance@sba.gov or by phone at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339).

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates can be as low as 3% for businesses, 2% for private nonprofit organizations and 1.25% for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must first contact FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

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