Hurricane Relief Targeted For Lenders AndHomeowners

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JACKSON, Miss. - (02/08/06) -- Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday hewill use as much as $4.5 billion in Community Development BlockGrants awarded by the federal government to provide small grants touninsured property owners whose homes were damaged by HurricaneKatrina. The state will use the funds to provide up to $150,000 toeach homeowner whose property was not covered by flood insurance.While the Federal Emergency Management Agency expects to pay out asmuch as $23 billion in flood insurance claims for HurricaneKatrina, officials estimate twice as much property in Mississippi,Louisiana and Alabama flooded by the massive storm was not coveredby flood insurance. Charles Elliott, president of the MississippiCU Association, who has been working with state officials on aflood-insurance backstop, said the requirements to obtain thefunding are that property owners must have incurred damages of 51%or more of the value of the structure and the owner must agree tomake repairs consistent with new standards for flood insurance,including raising the elevation of the structure. Recipients mustalso agree to take out flood insurance with the FEMA's NationalFlood Insurance Program. "This will allow homeowners to pay forrepairs," Elliott told The Credit Union Journal. As many as 55,000applications for the relief are expected and about 35,000homeowners are expected to qualify. Details of the program, such aswhether the checks will be delivered to property owners or theirlenders, are still be worked out by the U.S. Department of Housingand Urban Development, said Elliott. Members at four Mississippicredit unions, Keesler FCU, Singing River FCU, Navigator CU andGulf Coast Community FCU, where the brunt of the hurricane damageoccurred, are expected to be eligible for the reliefgrants.

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