Houseboat Owners and Renters Should Register with FEMA for Assistance

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PHOTO: Princess Bay, St. John - Sept. 8, 2017

ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands – Were you living on a houseboat that got damaged or destroyed during the September hurricanes? If so, you may be eligible for federal disaster assistance.

If a houseboat was your primary dwelling – regardless of whether you owned or rented it – the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be able to help you. But you won’t know unless you register with FEMA as soon as possible.

FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program includes grants for temporary housing, home repair or replacement, and other disaster-related needs. Temporary housing grants allow homeowners and renters to lease a dwelling for a limited period of time when the disaster has made their home uninhabitable. Survivors can choose to rent an apartment, a home – or a houseboat.

Housing repair or replacement grants help eligible homeowners get back into a safe, sanitary and functional home. The funds are not intended to bring a home, including a houseboat, to its pre-disaster condition. A grant can be used to help purchase a new home, to purchase materials or to hire contractors or skilled workers to complete essential repairs.

Other Needs Assistance grants are given to eligible homeowners and renters for a wide variety of losses, including household items, furniture, appliances, vehicle damage, clean-up tools such as a wet/dry vacuum or air purifiers, moving and storage expenses or medical and dental expenses caused by the disaster, including lost medications or medical equipment.

A home is a home whether it’s on land or on water. Register with FEMA today to see whether we can help you recover from the hurricanes.

Survivors may register with FEMA for assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov, or by calling 800-621-3362. Individuals who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 800-462-7585 directly. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362.

These toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (local time) seven days a week. Operators are standing by to assist survivors in multiple languages.

You may also visit any of the nine Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) across the territory to get help registering with FEMA and speak to recovery specialists. To find a DRC near you, go to http://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm.

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Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS – Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

For official information on the recovery effort following the hurricanes, please visit www.informusvi.com or www.usviupdate.com. Follow us on social media attwitter.com/femaregion2 and www.facebook.com/FEMAUSVirginIslands.

To donate or volunteer, contact the voluntary or charitable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters (NVOAD) at www.nvoad.org.  For those who wish to help, cash donations offer voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands also has the “Fund for the Virgin Islands” at www.USVIrecovery.org.