HARRISBURG—Anyone who looks around the area knows there are disasters everywhere. Now, the federal government has determined Pennsylvania to be a major disaster area. That declaration opens up the state for funding help from the federal government.
It means a whole lot of federal money to help with the cleanup process. That process is still in its early stages. City Island in Harrisburg is a prime example. Usually, the lot is filled with cars as people park to head over to Harrisburg. But that lot is instead filled with mud. And that is the scene across much of the area. This major disaster declaration will help people to try and pick up the pieces.
FEMA announced the declaration last night. That makes people in this area eligible for federal money and assistance. Assistance can range from grants for temporary housing and repairs to low cost loans to cover uninsured or the underinsured. It can also include other things like medical costs, clothing, and even equipment and materials purchased before the declaration. The disaster area includes Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, York, Lancaster and Lebanon counties. As this new funding becomes available, FEMA also urges people to beware of potential cleanup scams. They say, there are steps you can take to make sure someone trying to help is legitimate.
"If someone is approached by someone saying they represent the government, ask for ID if they don't have picture ID, call the local authorities," said Bill Brubaker of FEMA.
The next step is figuring out how to get the federal assistance. First, document in writing and with pictures, all of the damage in your home or business. Take that documentation to your township or boro. They in turn will pass it along to the county, who will pass it to the state and then on to FEMA for approval. Make sure to keep all of your receipts to show proof of everything.
Another important thing, don't wait to clean up the mess. Document the losses and begin cleaning up right now. Federal disaster investigators are going around looking at the damage but they will not be able to get to every single business or house. The process is tedious but documenting every single loss could really help you get some of that much needed help.
INFORMATION FROM FEMA: Anyone who has sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance by going to FEMA's website or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA. The phone number will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.