Earthquake: The Road To Recovery : Requests for FEMA Aid Set Record


It felt like the worst natural disaster in local memory, and Monday the government provided more data to prove it--announcing that a national record of 365,118 people have applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance in the wake of the Northridge earthquake, more than the previous high of 304,000 after Hurricane Hugo.

“Every new application is setting a record,” said FEMA spokesman Bret Hansard, adding that the agency has granted $209.4 million in disaster housing aid to 72,113 people who suffered damage as a result of the Jan. 17 quake.

The Small Business Administration has registered more loan applications than in any disaster, said spokesman Rick Jenkins. Through last week, the SBA had issued 302,625 applications to homeowners, renters and business owners, he said. More than 53,000 had returned those applications, he said, and the SBA has approved $108.7 million in low-interest, long-term loans.


“This disaster is huge in scope. There have been so many people affected,” Jenkins said. “In the first two weeks, we had issued more loan applications than we did during the first six months of Hurricane Andrew. And we’re still issuing thousands every day.”

The deadline for individuals applying for aid from the agency is March 18--60 days after President Clinton declared Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties a federal disaster area.

The Northridge quake killed at least 57 people, collapsed freeways and damaged or destroyed more than 45,000 homes. State officials have estimated the cost at $13 billion to $20 billion.

FEMA’s emergency housing grants are awarded in two-month increments to renters and three-month increments to homeowners--typically $1,100 per month for quake victims, given without regard to income. Hansard said inspectors are working around the clock to confirm that applicants have incurred the damage they claim.

FEMA is also offering grants of up to $10,000 to homeowners whose residences need minimal repairs to make them “safe, sanitary and secure.” To get aid, Hansard said, “you don’t necessarily have to be someone whose home was completely destroyed.”

FEMA officials have opened two long-term earthquake service centers--at 28460 Avenue Stanford in Valencia and 1901 S. Bundy Drive on the Westside--as the first of 10 such centers designed to replace the 21 short-term disaster assistance centers FEMA set up after the quake.


Individuals seeking information about quake aid from FEMA can call (800) 525-0321.