A fund to aid Fairfield victims of Superstorm Sandy has raised a little more than $95,000 so far, with contributions from individuals and families, local businesses, civic organizations and houses of worship.
Carla Miklos, executive director at Operation Hope, said the fund is not primarily designed to help with long-term recovery efforts, but is a way to help local residents with needs not covered by insurance or FEMA.
"Trying to help plug a gap or solve a more immediate need," Miklos said is the goal of grants from the fund.
The fund was set up by the town in the wake of the late-October storm, which inflicted heavy damage in shoreline neighborhoods, and applications are processed by Operation Hope, the local nonprofit that manages local homeless shelters, a community kitchen and transitional housing program. A committee then reviews all the applications for assistance.
To date, $95,263 has been raised in the aftermath of the storm, which also includes a donation from the Fairfield County Community Foundation.
So far, Miklos said 13 applications have been received, and seven have been approved. "A total of $13,211 has been provided to help our neighbors with immediate needs not covered by insurance or FEMA, like replacement of washers and dryers, basement clean-up and mold remediation, or mattresses and box springs," she said.
Five applications are still pending, and one was denied because it was for a residence that is not in Fairfield.
Most of the grants have been for about $1,200 or so, Miklos said.
"We have provided about 75 households with applications," Miklos said. "Many people are still trying to assess what they really need, what may be covered by insurance and/or FEMA, and what their future plans are before they return applications."
Others, she said, may be hesitant to apply because they don't want to ask for help or feel others may need the money more than they do.
"We anticipate that many more may come back as time goes by and people are able to assess their situations more clearly," Miklos said.
The use of the money by applicants must directly relate to needs caused by the storm, and must be a vital expense. The home must be a permanent residence in Fairfield, and the owner needs to apply first to their insurance company and FEMA.
Applications, which are still being accepted, can be found at the first selectman's office, the town's Social Services Department or Operation Hope, 636 Old Post Road.
Applicants must provide proof of residency, financial information such as income and asset verification, demonstrate they have exhausted any other forms of assistance and be current on all tax obligations with the town. They must also provide, whenever possible, estimates, receipts or other documents to support their requests.
Payments will be made by the fund directly to the vendor on behalf of the applicant.
The funds cannot be used to replace wine cellars or alcohol destroyed by the storm, for investment property or business losses, expenses or losses not directly related to the storm or to replace items or offset losses covered by insurance.
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