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Thousands register for FEMA Aid in North Bay

By James Lanaras, Bay City News Service

February 24, 2006

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that 2,232 households in Napa, Marin, Solano and Sonoma counties have registered online or by phone for monetary assistance to recover from the storms and floods in late December and January.

FEMA spokeswoman Christine May said this afternoon that about half of those households have visited the six FEMA centers in the four counties.

Personnel at the centers provide information and assist applicants in filling out forms. The centers opened on Feb. 9 and 10, and do not yet have a closing date scheduled, May said.

"We're still encouraging people to register, even if they are
unsure what they might be eligible for,'' May said.

She also urged those seeking federal money for flood relief to first consult their insurance providers because FEMA will not pay for damages covered by insurance.

The number to register with FEMA is (800) 621-FEMA. Registration is also available online at http://www.fema.gov. In Sonoma County, 536 households registered for FEMA relief and 229 households visited the two relief centers in Guerneville and Santa Rosa.

The county estimated it suffered $104 million in damage from the storms. FEMA has approved $452,324 in housing assistance and $146,000 in assistance for other needs that include medical bills, storage and other disaster relief as of Wednesday for that county, May said.

In Solano County, where $62.6 million in damage was reported, 702 households have registered for federal relief and 285 households have visited the two centers in Fairfield and Vacaville, May said. FEMA has approved $1,040,000 in housing assistance and $190,000 for other needs, May said.

Businesses were hit hardest in Napa and Marin counties. The U.S. Small Business Administration will provide low-interest loans to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.

In Napa County, 411 households registered with FEMA and 260 of them visited the FEMA center in Napa. FEMA has approved $195,000 in housing assistance and $71,000 in assistance for other storm-related relief for that county. Napa County reported $115 million in storm and flood damage, most of it in the city of Napa.

Marin County officials estimated that the storms caused $110 million in damage. May said 583 Marin households registered for aid and 219 households visited the FEMA center in San Anselmo. FEMA has approved $619,000 in housing assistance and $93,000 in other needs relief in Marin.

All four counties were included in President Bush's disaster area declaration and are eligible for individual assistance to residents and business owners, and for public assistance to state and local governments to repair and replace public facilities.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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