Jack Walker Published

Disaster Aid Application For April Storms ‘Simplified’ By FEMA

Crumbled bricks lie in the street in front of a damaged building in Charleston, West Virginia.
Storms swept West Virginia in early April, causing structural and property damage across the state.
Chris Oxley/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In March, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) adopted a wide slate of reforms to its disaster assistance program, which offers financial aid to individuals impacted by natural disasters.

FEMA’s updated program includes new funds for residents’ immediate needs following a natural disaster — including a housing relief fund, and another fund for essential goods like food, water and medicine.

Additionally, FEMA streamlined its application process for disaster aid claims, removing some eligibility criteria and submission requirements.

These changes mark an effort to make disaster aid more accessible, and address residents’ specific needs on a case-by-case basis, according to FEMA Media Relations Specialist Trey Paul.

“We’ve listened to our survivors,” Paul said. “We understand that it’s such a stressful process, and we wanted to make things a lot easier.”

According to Paul, these changes take effect for disasters declared on or after March 22, 2024, which includes the storms, flooding and tornado that struck West Virginia in early April.

Later that month, Gov. Jim Justice announced he would pursue a joint FEMA disaster declaration over the incidents, which stretched across different regions of the Mountain State.

Last week, FEMA approved West Virginia’s disaster declaration request, opening designated regions of the state to federal emergency relief dollars.

For residents, the “simplified” relief application already has fewer requirements, Paul said. But the reforms can also provide new and more direct ways to address immediate needs.

For example, Paul said residents can receive one-time payments of $750 for household costs through the fund for serious needs.

“Survivors in West Virginia will now have access to a wider range of assistance that is easier to understand and tailored to their unique needs,” he said.

Residents and businesses of Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln, Marshall, Nicholas, Ohio, Putnam, Wayne and Wetzel counties are eligible to apply for the disaster relief funds.

Eligible parties can apply for assistance online at disasterassistance.gov, or call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362.

Residents can also speak with FEMA representatives in person Monday-Saturday at the Tyler Mountain Volunteer Fire Department in Kanawha County, which now houses a disaster recovery center.

FEMA has not yet announced a deadline for disaster assistance applications over the April incidents.

For more information on disaster assistance resources available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, visit the agency’s website.