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Federal officials in Spokane County connect wildfire victims with aid

Two federal agencies may begin dispersing money soon to victims of Spokane County’s Oregon Road and Gray wildfires.

FEMA, Small Business Administration and representatives from Washington agencies have begun collecting data from homeowners at outreach centers in Elk and Medical Lake.

Duke Davis, the federal coordinating officer for FEMA, says his agency may begin cutting checks in the next few days.

“We’re able to give up to $42,500 on the residence repair assistance in your home space, things of that nature," Davis said. "Then we have another side of our program that can offer up to an additional $42,500 for what we call other needs assistance, but generally it falls into the category of personal property, tools, freezers, furniture.”

Davis says FEMA is offering grants. The Small Business Administration is making low-interest loans more centered toward rebuilding projects.

George Kostyrko from the SBA says outreach employees can explain the options available to home and businessowners.

“We can start the process immediately. You can either start it online at home or you can come into a disaster resource center," he said.

"We always encourage people to come to the disaster outreach center, though, just because you’ve got one-on-one help with somebody and you can move through the application quicker. At some point, though, you’re going to get emails from the loan providers, the people that are actually looking at the loan and they’re going to be asking you specific information." he said.

Davis says last week’s opening of the outreach centers kicked off a 60-day eligibility window for people interested in collecting federal aid. He urges people not to wait as they decide that’s the right avenue for them.

“It always hurts my heart when somebody comes up at day 80 or day 90 after a disaster and they say I didn’t register. They have to register and get a registration number and then our program will really go on for 18 months. At any time in that 18 month period, as long as you have a registration number, we can come back and revisit your case and still work to get to yes in some type of assistance," Davis said.

The outreach centers will be open every day except Sundays. Today’s hours are 8:30 to six at Medical Lake City Hall and 8:30 to 6:30 at the Country Church of the Open Bible in Elk.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.