The good news is that there are a number of federal grants and programs available to assist states, organizations, homeowners, and everyday folks who are affected by adverse, and unexpected, weather conditions. Ranging from disaster relief programs provided by FEMA, to heating cost help for low income families, Americans in need can review these grants to get themselves back on track after a particularly long, and especially severe, winter season.
When an area is hit by a major storm, the communities that are hardest hit are often designated as an "Official Disaster Zone" by the federal government. Though this does not seem like a desirable designation to have, it actually means that the region and its residents will be eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA grants to get back on their feet.
There are essentially two types of direct federal disaster aid available for applicants, which are housing assistance and non-housing assistance.
Housing assistance incudes temporary money or housing to repair or replace a recipient's primary resident, while non-housing assistance covers medical and dental expenses, clothing and household items, tools, home fuel, disaster-related moving and storage costs, and replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle. In order to qualify for either of these types of grants, the applicant must be a U.S. Citizen, reside in an area covered by a Major Disaster Declaration, and have severe and unexpected expenses that are not covered by homeowner's insurance. Often, once a claim is filed, a FEMA representative will go to the applicant's home to survey the damage, and figure out the best way to help.
Dropping temperatures always coincide with rising heat costs, and during this exceptionally cold winter, many families have seen significant rises in their monthly home heating expenses. Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers federal grants to low income families who need help covering their bills, which are generally administered and distributed through a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The funds provided can cover a lot of seasonal needs, including home energy bills, and weatherization and energy-related minor home repairs, (such as repairing a roof that has been damaged by an ice-covered falling tree limb.)
To qualify, applicants must have a maximum income level that is 150% of the federal poverty level, (except where 60 percent of the individual state's median income is higher.) For a complete list of additional criteria, potential applicants can review the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/resource/liheap-eligibility-criteria.
2014 is already breaking records for unusually severe winter weather, and many communities, neighborhoods and families have suffered unexpected consequences, from storm-related damage to exceptionally high heating costs.
With the assistance available from federal programs, however, many families will be able to recover and get back to normal sooner than expected, just in time for the much-anticipated spring season.
If you have had a financially devastating brush with a winter storm or two, review the assistance options available. From utility bill help to home repair, these grants and program ensure that all American citizens have an opportunity to thaw out, warm up, and get back on their feet.