Deadline for FEMA flood aide nears

LAWRENCEVILLE -- September's historic flooding threw a multi-million dollar punch to the gut of Gwinnett property owners. Anyone seeking federal assistance to mend the damages has only a couple days to do so.

Monday night marks the deadline for residents affected by the September floods to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, officials said this week. Last-minute applications can be submitted online or over the phone.

The toll-free FEMA numbers will be open until 10 p.m. Monday. Applications can be submitted online until midnight. Help is available in all languages.

Across the county, more than 300 homes and businesses were damaged by swollen creeks and rivers coursing primarily through Lilburn and Lawrenceville. At least 125 homes were destroyed, said Gregory Swanson, director of Gwinnett Emergency Management.

Swanson said Thursday that damage estimates for public-owned property in Gwinnett have topped $8 million. More than 3,000 Gwinnettians have applied for flood

assistance, he said.

A low-interest disaster loan program through the U.S. Small Business Administration also ends Monday.

The program allows homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes to make repairs or replacements to personal property without the pressure of high interest rates. An outreach center for the program will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at Mountain Park Depot, 5050 Five Forks Trickum Road in Lilburn.

Gwinnett and 16 other Georgia counties were declared federal disaster areas in the wake of torrential rains that hovered for days in September.

FEMA approved more than $46 million in grants for temporary housing, home repairs and other needs, an Atlanta-based official said last month. About $5.4 million was then being directed to Gwinnett.

Three FEMA recovery centers were set up to assists victims in metro Atlanta, including a Lilburn location. Recovery specialists at the centers assisted more than 7,500 residents.