Victims of Hurricane Sandy now have until April 1 to register for individual disaster aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie's office said Thursday afternoon that the state had just received word from FEMA that the deadline, which had been today, was extended.

“This 30-day extension will help us ensure that anyone who has been affected by Sandy gets the help they need and deserve,” Christie said in a statement.

The governor said it’s important for people to know that the process of receiving any federal assistance — including future grant assistance for homeowners and businesses — begins with registering as a disaster survivor with FEMA and working with a coordinator to determine eligibility.

“I encourage those who have not yet registered with FEMA and SBA to do so now to get the relief they are entitled to and to ensure their eligibility for any future relief we can offer," Christie said.

The extension was granted after a request from the state Wednesday for another 30 days due to the magnitude of the storm disaster. The deadline had been extended earlier this year to March 1.

Attorney Timothy Cunningham from Christie’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding said Wednesday evening during a Sandy Task Force meeting in Little Egg Harbor Township that the governor wrote a letter to FEMA late Wednesday afternoon asking that today’s deadline be pushed back.

Although applications for FEMA aid from storm victims have slowed since the Oct. 29 storm, there are still people who need help and more time, Cunningham said Wednesday.

The deadline extension also applies for homeowners, renters and businesses registering with the Small Business Administration for Disaster Loan assistance.

Since the storm, there have been about 257,000 claims filed with FEMA from across the state. The agency has said it has paid out more than $365.7 million in grants and $314 million for those who need temporary housing help.

An SBA Disaster Loan represents the best opportunity for disaster assistance for a business affected by Hurricane Sandy, Thursday’s news release stated. Applicants are not obligated to accept an SBA disaster home loan, but homeowners and renters may become eligible for additional assistance in the future.

According to the news release, businesses also have until July 31 to apply for SBA economic injury disaster loans.

Individuals with storm damage can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov. or by phone by calling 800-621-3362, TTY 800-462-7585.

Contact Donna Weaver:

609-226-9198

Follow Donna Weaver on Twitter @DonnaKWeaver