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I was heartbroken to hear of the loss of life and property from the storms that ripped through parts of Kentucky on March 2. To those of you who were affected, my family and I hold you in our thoughts and prayers.
Many of you lost your homes, your businesses, your vehicles, and other property in the storms. You are frustrated, and you just want to get back to some sense of normalcy. Neither I nor anyone else can make the pain of loss go away. But there are sources of aid to help you in this difficult time.
Here, I want to talk specifically about what’s available to farmers in counties included in the presidential disaster declaration who suffered damage and property loss. Many of these apply to anyone who lives in a designated disaster area.
Farmers may be eligible for emergency loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
This also applies to farmers who live in counties that are contiguous to counties included in the disaster declaration. Applications for physical and production losses will be received through Nov. 6.
Contact your local FSA service center or call the state FSA office at (859) 224-7601 to find out what aid you may be eligible for and what documentation will be required.
The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management advises that anyone who suffered storm damage must register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be eligible for federal aid. Call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or register online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
If you lost work or have a business that was damaged in the storms, you may be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance. Call your local unemployment office or call the state unemployment office at (502) 564-3240 for more information.
Individual and business taxpayers in the declared disaster areas may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service and the Kentucky Department of Revenue. Go to www.irs.gov or call the state revenue department at (502) 564-4581 to find out more about extensions of filing and payment deadlines.
Insurance companies may not cancel policies or change rates until April 15 for policyholders who live in the affected areas. Call the Kentucky Department of Insurance at 800-595-6053 if you have any questions about insurance related to the storms.
People who live or work in the declared disaster areas and were affected by the storms may apply for federal disaster food benefits through March 23.
Contact your local Community Based Services office or call the state SNAP office at (502) 564-7050.
If you borrowed money from USDA Rural Development to buy your home, and your home sustained damage in the March 2 storms, you may be eligible for a moratorium or reamortization on your loan payment. Contact USDA Rural Development’s Centralized Servicing Center at 800-414-1226 (TDD number: 800-438-1832) to request assistance. Go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/rd/disasters/disassistance.html to find out more.
Homeowners, renters, businesses, and private nonprofit organizations may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.
There may be other agencies that can help you that are not on this list. If you have a specific need that isn’t covered here, and you don’t know where to turn, feel free to call the Kentucky Department of Agriculture at (502) 573-0450, and we’ll try to find someone who can help you.
Churches, nonprofits, and volunteers also may be able to help. Local churches and charities are especially important in the immediate aftermath of an incident.
I have been amazed and humbled by many such organizations that have performed heroically since the storms hit.
Many of you suffered losses that can never be replaced. No one can promise to make you whole again. But some of the agencies above may be able to help you get back on your feet.
James Comer is commissioner of agriculture for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.