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August 4, 2010

Flood 2010: August 5 deadline nears for disaster assistance applications

NASHVILLE, TN: Thursday, August 5, is the final day that Tennesseans affected by the May floods can apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration.

In addition to federal grants and loans, that paperwork is key to all kinds of resources that can help folks rebuild their lives, including sales tax refunds for replacement appliances, furniture and building supplies, as well as TVA rebates for eligible heating and cooling improvements.

“Tennesseans affected by the May flooding have a great reminder to be sure to have filed for flood assistance with the deadline falling on the state’s primary elections day, Thursday, August 5,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett, whose office oversees elections.

“Rather than the deadline being lost in the final Election Day rush of political advertisements and news coverage, this is a good occasion to call attention to it. I encourage everyone to not only vote and remind others to vote, but to be sure to remind family, friends and neighbors about the 10 p.m. deadline to apply for flood assistance on primary election day.”

More than 66,000 Tennesseans have applied to FEMA, which has paid out $155 million in grants. The Small Business Administration has approved $144 million in low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Still, officials are worried that too many people still haven’t sought help – or that they haven’t sought all the assistance they deserve.

“Some people don’t think they’re eligible, others are unsure of the process. There are folks who are simply paralyzed by the enormity of their loss and can’t make decisions,” said AARP Tennessee State President Margot Seay. “That’s why friends and family members must step in before it’s too late. We hope everyone will use Election Day as an opportunity to ‘elect’ to help others.”

Tennesseans can apply online anytime at or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 800-462-7585 for those with speech and hearing disabilities.

“It’s vital that survivors of Tennessee’s unprecedented floods register for assistance before time runs out,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech. “Help is still available, and it only takes a few minutes to apply. But to benefit, you have to sign up.”

One major issue is that too many folks don’t understand that if they receive a disaster loan application from the Small Business Administration they should fill it out – even if they’re not business owners. A loan denial may open up other assistance to eligible applicants. Only one-fourth of SBA applications sent out have been returned. To register, call 1-800-659-2955 or apply online at

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