Individual Assistance Program
The "Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act" was created in response to major disasters: natural, technological, or manmade.
Section 408 of the Stafford Act provides Assistance to Individuals and Households. It is implemented at the request of the Governor and the recommendation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of the disaster declaration. The President of the United States may provide financial assistance, and, if necessary, direct services, to individuals in the state who, as a direct result of a major disaster, have necessary expenses and serious needs in which they are unable to meet such expenses or needs through other means.
As with all disaster declarations, before the Governor is able to make a Presidential disaster declaration request, a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) needs to be completed. PDAs will include local, tribal, state, and federal partners working together to gather the needed information. Additional information on the IA PDA process is available through FEMA video. The information has been broken into two parts, each focusing on a specific aspect of the process.
The Individual Assistance (IA) Program is able to provide financial assistance up to $31,900 through grants to individuals and families who sustain damage or develop serious needs due to a Presidential declared disaster. The grants do not need to be repaid and are provided only after verification that the serious needs and necessary expenses cannot be met by insurance, another federal program, or other sources of assistance.
Serious needs and necessary expenses include:
The program is not intended to provide for the purchase of non-essential, luxury or decorative items. Also, it is not the intent to return the grant recipient to his/her pre-disaster status or provide assistance for verified pre-existing conditions.
When Individual Assistance is declared as part of a Presidential disaster declaration, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is also a possible funding source available to make disaster survivors whole again through low interest loans. SBA provides low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, inventory, and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.
Below is a summary of activities of state and federal disaster recovery efforts for Individual Assistance in previous presidentially declared disasters. The funds are for renting emergency housing for displaced residents, for basic housing repairs to make owner-occupied homes livable again, and other serious disaster related needs.
State and federal disaster aid to individuals affected by Missouri River flooding in 2011 topped $10 million. This figure includes $4.7 million in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) targeted to households, and nearly $5.4 million in low-interest disaster loans for households and businesses from the Small Business Administration. More than 1,200 households registered for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program after South Dakota received a Presidential disaster declaration for Individual Assistance following the devastating flooding.
To date, individuals have been awarded over $30 million in grants to aid South Dakota citizens with serious disaster related needs and necessary expenses.