May 1 deadline to register for FEMA Sandy assistance, SBA loans

New Jersey residents with damage due to Superstorm Sandy should know the window for getting financial help from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration is closing.

Typically, those with damage from a natural disaster have 60 days to register with FEMA. But in New Jersey, the deadline has been extended several times. The final extension expires Wednesday, May 1. It’s also the last day for register for low-interest loans with the SBA.

It’s essential that people register online or by phone by the deadline “whether they’re a renter, whether they’re a homeowner, whether they’re the owner of a business that was damaged or the employee of a business that was damaged,” says FEMA’s Robin Smith.

FEMA registration can be done online or by calling 1-800-621-3326. Information about SBA disaster assistance programs is available at www.sba.gov/disaster, 1-800-659-2955, or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Those who don’t register in time will be out of luck when seeking help from the agencies.

Already, more than 260,000 applicants have contacted FEMA to register for assistance, though new requests for help are decreasing.

“The assumption then would be that most people have registered or are in the process already,” says Smith.

SBA has approved $719 million in loans for homeowners, renters and businesses.

May 1 also marks another important milestone: check-out day for those in FEMA’s transitional sheltering assistance program. At its peak, the agency paid for hotel rooms for 5,000 families displaced by the storm. As of last week, only 62 remained.

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