Financial aid deadline approaching for Lauderdale tornado victims

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - Close to two months after a tornado devastated the Lockhart community in Lauderdale, the deadline is coming up for storm victims to receive federal assistance. Officials say there may still be people who haven't yet applied through FEMA or the Small Business Administration.

"I might go to a family member out of state, I might still be there until I have settled with my insurance because you know that takes a little bit," FEMA public affairs officer Alberto Pillot says. "So we're encouraging any family members, neighbors, friends who know someone who still has not, they have until the 27th of March to apply for assistance."

FEMA can provide temporary assistance through grant funding so families can put their lives back on track. The SBA can help with further assistance down the road for homeowners, renters, organizations or businesses.

"From the long-term perspective, people will need more financial assistance in rebuilding," SBA public affairs specialist Sandra Lawson says. "So the SBA provides long-term low-interest loans."

The SBA has already given over $5.5 million in SBA loans to Mississippians this year. Pillot says FEMA has approved over $3 million in aid for issues like rental assistance and home repairs. Pillot and Lawson say even if you don't think you need the money now, it won't hurt you to apply.

"If you wait until after the deadline, that option may not be available to you anymore," Lawson says.

After March 27th, you should still keep up with your application.

"Just because the deadline is over, doesn't mean FEMA is leaving," Pillot says.

You can keep in touch with representatives to see what assistance you need.

If you were affected by the tornado earlier this year, apply first through FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. Businesses can apply directly through the SBA at 1-800-659-2955.