Churches impacted by the EF3 tornado that hit North Little Rock and Little Rock on March 31 may be eligible for FEMA funds, the federal agency recently announced.
The money would be in the form of grants and could be used to cover costs to repair or replace facilities damaged during the storms.
In a press release, FEMA defined, “religious facilities as a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other house of worship without regard to the religious character of the facility. No religious facility or house of worship may be excluded from this definition because leadership or membership in the organization is limited to persons who share a religious faith or practice.”
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To be an eligible applicant, FEMA said a house of worship must:
Be owned or operated by a private nonprofit organization.The facility must be open to the public.Have been damaged by the March 31 severe storms and tornadoes.Have either not received funding or received insufficient funding after applying for a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan to repair or replace a facility.The application must include state and/or U.S. Internal Revenue Service documentation of tax-exempt status, pre-disaster charter and other documentation.
Be owned or operated by a private nonprofit organization.
The facility must be open to the public.
Have been damaged by the March 31 severe storms and tornadoes.
Have either not received funding or received insufficient funding after applying for a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan to repair or replace a facility.
The application must include state and/or U.S. Internal Revenue Service documentation of tax-exempt status, pre-disaster charter and other documentation.
SBA’s can provide as much as $2 million in loans for damaged real estate and the replacement of property. The interest rate is 2.375% with terms up to 30 years. The deadline to apply for property damage is June 1, 2023. The deadline to apply for economic injury is Jan. 2, 2024.
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 email@example.com for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Completed applications should be mailed to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
All applicants are encouraged to make a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) as soon as possible by contacting their local emergency management office. The deadline to file is next Tuesday, May 2.
In a separate announcement, FEMA said more than 7,000 people in Pulaski, Lonoke and Cross counties had already been approved to receive more than $5 million in assistance.
As part of the disaster assistance process, FEMA must determine ownership and occupancy of damaged primary residences.
FEMA accepts the following documents as proof you owned your home before the declared disaster. Only one of the documents is required:
Deed or title
Home purchase contract
Homeowners insurance documentation
Last will and testament (and death certificate) naming applicant heir to the property
Property tax receipt (or tax bill certificate)
Manufactured home certificate of title
Receipts for major repairs or maintenance may be acceptable if no other documentation exists.
Letter prepared after the disaster from a mobile home park owner or manager or public official that meet FEMA requirements.
Disaster recovery centers are located at:
North Little Rock Community Center, 2700 Willow St.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.
Wildwood Center & Medical Tower, 2404 Wildwood Ave.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Closed Sunday
1st United Methodist Church, 308 W. Main St., Jacksonville
West Central Community Center, 8616 Colonel Glenn Road
No appointments are necessary.
You do not have to visit a disaster recovery center to apply for assistance. The fastest and easiest way to apply is by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov.
Disaster Survivor Assistance
Federal and local disaster workers do not solicit or accept money. Don’t trust anyone who offers financial help and then asks for money.
Do not disclose information to any unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be FEMA or federal employees. FEMA will not contact you unless you have called FEMA first or applied for assistance.
FEMA representatives will ask for social security and bank account numbers when you apply and may ask for it again after you apply. Be cautious when giving this information to others who ask for it. Scam artists may pose as government officials, aid workers, or insurance company employees.
Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives carry an identification badge with a photograph. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not proof of identity.
Phony property inspections:
Be on alert if somebody asks for your nine-digit registration number. FEMA inspectors will never ask for this information. They already have it in their records.
No government disaster assistance official will call you to ask for your financial account information. If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, feel free to call the FEMA Helpline and ask if FEMA is trying to reach you. Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.
FEMA contracted inspectors assessing damage, never charge a fee to inspect your property.
Phony building contractors:
FEMA does not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. A FEMA inspector’s job is to verify damage.
Always hire a reputable engineer, architect or building official to assess your home. An unethical contractor may create damage to get work.
To report scams, fraud and identity-theft contact:
FEMA’s toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721
The Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud: justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form
When in doubt, report any suspicious behavior to your local authorities. Police or Sheriff.