Take a second look at determination letters

FEMA wants to make sure you know staffers are there to help

Eric Singer, Anchor/Reporter , e.singer@krdo.com
POSTED: 06:32 PM MDT Oct 07, 2013 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo -

You need to read between the lines on the FEMA determination letters for flood survivors in El Paso County.  Some may say ineligible for FEMA money and help and that may not be the case says FEMA's Renee Bafalis, "There are several reasons why you may be deemed ineligible. It may be something as simple as you didn't fill out the paperwork, properly." 

The Disaster Recovery Center at the Colorado Springs Fire Department headquarters was empty when I visited with Bafalis on Monday.  It could be many people have tossed the determination letters and have given up hope of getting government help.  Bafalis says this determination letter is not the end of your search for government assistance, "I know we've had situations in the recovery center where people have come into here and say I don't know why we got this and FEMA staffers have been able to walk them through the appeal process to get FEMA money.  We have a lot of people here.  When you talk with them face to face, it becomes more personable.  You have an advocate to help you get through the process."

There's also the Small Business Administration that can help you with low interest loans.  Yolanda Stokes is with this organization.  She says homeowners may be eligible for low interest loans up to two hundred thousand dollars for repair or replacement of property, renters can get up to 40 thousand dollars for personal property including vehicles and up to two million dollars is available for businesses for losses and economic injury.  Stokes also wanted to make something crystal clear about these loans, "There is no obligation to actually take the loan if you are approved for it.  We're just encouraging flood survivors to come here and take advantage of the help."

Starting this weekend, the Disaster Recovery Center will be closed on Sunday.  It will still be open Monday through Saturday, nine in the morning until seven in the evening.