HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Tornado survivors in Limestone County are struggling to put their lives back together -- but about 75% of them may be missing out on free money that's just waiting on them.
The deadline to apply for assistance from the April 28th storms is July first.
And there is one specific way many people miss out on federal resources set aside for them.
When you lose nearly everything, some storm survivors may get caught up in trying to save something.
A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency stopped by WHNT NEWS 19 to encourage those in the disaster zone to stop clearing debris and do something that may prove invaluable down the road of recovery.
"Fill out that application," said Nate Custer of FEMA. "It doesn't obligate you to take a loan, it keeps you in the system." He was referring to paperwork that includes low interest loans through the Small Business Administration.
Custer said as of Saturday night, May 10th, only 57 people had either visited the new recovery center in limestone county or registered online with FEMA. That's only about 25% of residents who reportedly need help.
It's financial aid available from the federal government.
"Registering gets you a callback within a matter of days from a FEMA inspector, who will make an appointment with you and come out and look at your damage," Custer said.
He added people lose out by discarding packets from the Small Business Administration, assuming they're just for business owners. Custer says don't let the name fool you.
"Even though the name of the agency is the Small Business Administration, it provides loans on a case by case basis to individuals, both homeowners and renters," he said.
Custer explained FEMA representatives will soon be visiting individual addresses in Limestone and Dekalb Counties to make sure survivors--still shocked by their losses--know what they're entitled to, instead of waiting for them to come to FEMA asking for help.
Storm survivors have 60 days from the date of a disaster declaration to register for FEMA benefits.
Assistance is available for temporary housing, repair for damages to a home or replacement of items lost in the storms. As always, the number to call is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).