For those affected by Hurricane Sandy and still on the fence about whether or not they are going to take the effort to apply for assistance, U.S. Small Business Administration Public Affairs Specialist John Oliver Frederick warns the window for aid is not infinite.
"We're more than 30 days in, we're just past the midpoint," Frederick said.
Frederick explained in most instances, federal disaster assistance is only available from 60 days beyond the day the president makes a major disaster declaration.
"We've issued 7,700 applications," Frederick said. "We've given out $3.2 million in loans and assistance. But there's still more to help. Connecticut has more people who will attend a UConn basketball game than apply for aid."
Frederick said, in Connecticut, he's seen many instances of residents saying they aren't in a spot where they need help, and instead wanted to make sure others were getting the help first. He explained that, while that's a nice sentiment, FEMA and the SBA are experts who can determine the level of need.
"Some say, 'I don't need help, go help my neighbor,'" Frederick said. "There's a lot of 'self-diagnosing.' We're the experts, let us do what we do so we can help you. Rumors start flying about who on your block is getting what in terms of funds. Ignore all that. Come talk to us and make sure to return your application."
Frederick said not returning an application is a declaration to the federal government that you no longer need assistance, and you'll become ineligible for assistance. Frederick also said residents think their neighbors might need the help, when really, there could be unseen damages that will have an effect long term.
"Let us come out and do an inspection for you," he said. "We can evaluate your losses and it doesn't cost you a thing. Sometimes it can be damage not visible right now and you don't want to wait till you past the point where you're eligible for help and turn on your air conditioner in the Summer and find its damaged."
Frederick said returning an application is win-win for the applicant because if they are denied a loan, they can still have the application returned to FEMA for the possibility of grant money. He urged residents looking for more information to check DisasterAssistance.gov, SBA.gov/Sandy or call 1-800-621-FEMA.