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Use Disaster Funds Wisely and for Intended Purpose

HUNT VALLEY, Md.  — State and federal disaster assistance is bringing needed financial help to homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered damage or loss as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

But Maryland Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are urging storm survivors to use disaster funds wisely and only for their intended purpose.

“Many people have great needs and the money they receive may not cover all they would like,” said MEMA Executive Director Ken Mellette. “But if you spend money on anything other than what your FEMA letter tells you, additional assistance may not be available.”

Funds are available through grants for housing or other needs and through low-interest federal loans to replace housing or personal effects.

Housing Assistance grants must be used only for

Basic housing repairs for homeowners

  • Short-term rental assistance
  • Reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses

Other Needs Assistance grants should be used to help replace essential personal property and meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable-aid programs. Most funds are deposited electronically and a letter follows in the mail to explain how the money is to be used.

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are also available to homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations of all sizes.

“We want you to use the money to meet specific disaster-related needs,” Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Lapinski said.

Here are tips to help you get the most out of your personal disaster recovery payment:

  • Keep all of your receipts.
  • If you receive your grant in the form of a check, make sure to safeguard those funds and only spend the money on disaster-related expenses.
  • Don’t be tempted to pay household bills with the disaster recovery payment.
  • Don’t make purchases unrelated to needs created by the disaster.

Disaster grants are subject to an audit and recipients should keep receipts or bills for three years to demonstrate how all funds were used in meeting disaster-related needs. These grants are tax free and are not a loan. They do not have to be repaid. They are not counted as income for welfare or other federal benefit programs and they cannot be garnished.

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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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