Last week, I traveled to Alabama and Mississippi with Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Vilsack, FEMA Administrator Fugate and SBA Administrator Karen Mills to view the damage left by the storms, assess the initial recovery already underway as well as meet with families who are picking up the pieces of their home.
As we continue to pick up the pieces, I will be traveling to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Monday to survey the damage done by the recent tornadoes. While in Tuscaloosa, I will tour the Rosedale Court Apartments with Senator Richard Shelby and Congressman Spencer Bachus. Of the 100 units at Rosedale that were destroyed, the tornadoes left 96 residents to be re-housed. In Birmingham, I will visit the Timber Ridge Apartments with Congressman Spencer Bachus and Birmingham Mayor William Bell. On Tuesday, my team and I will head to Georgia to survey the damage and offer our support there as well.
Since last week’s storm hit the South, HUD has announced its intention to speed federal disaster assistance to Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky. HUD’s disaster assistance gives these states the ability to re-allocate existing federal resources toward disaster relief. Through the Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs, state and local communities are given the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars to address critical needs such as housing and services for disaster victims. HUD will also grant a 90-day foreclosure relief on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured homes.
Other HUD programs available to disaster victims include the Section 203(h) program which allows the FHA to insure mortgages made by qualified lenders to those affected by a major disaster who have lost their homes and face the task of rebuilding or purchasing another home. HUD also offers the Section 108 loan guarantee assistance to state and local governments for housing rehabilitation, economic development and repair of public infrastructure.
We are working closely and quickly with our partners at FEMA to ensure we reach out to those in need of assistance. If you or some you know is need of assistance, you can contact FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). You can also register online through DisasterAssistance.gov as well as through your mobile phone at m.fema.gov.