Homeowners and renters who suffered losses from Hurricane Sandy have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This deadline, which has been extended three times, is critical for anyone who wants to ensure eligibility for future grants through the money coming into the state from the nearly $60 million aid package Congress approved in January.

One of the big concerns for aid workers is that only about 17 percent of those eligible to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration loan have completed the application, spokeswoman Karen Knapik said. It is important, she said, because people may be eligible for additional FEMA grants if they are denied an SBA loan.

SBA loans also can remain accessible up to 10 months without a penalty or fee before a homeowner decides whether to accept it, Knapik said.

As the application process for grant programs are established, the state is expected to require that homeowners provide a paper trail for the aid they have applied for as a way to determine what the true need is. Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that the state likely would tap into the databases already created by FEMA as a way to verify information, which is why residents who want to be eligible for grants must register.

“We’ve been saying this over and over since Oct. 31,” Christie said. “If you haven’t called yet, shame on you for God’s sake.”

FEMA how to:

To register for FEMA aid, call 1-800-621-FEMA between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., or at www.disasterassistance.gov.

For questions regarding SBA loans, call 1-800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

For questions about flood insurance claims or the appeal process, call 1-800-427-4661

Contact Sarah Watson:


Follow Sarah Watson on Twitter @acpresssarah

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