R.I. homeowners get first Sandy aid

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized the first disaster assistance payments to individuals in Rhode Island whose homes were damaged last month by Hurricane Sandy. FEMA has approved $130,800 in individual disaster assistance for homeowners. Agency spokeswoman Deanna Frazier said 220 Rhode Islanders have registered for help from FEMA. She said she expected the number to grow now that President Obama has signed disaster declaration requests from the state. Sandy, also called a superstorm because of the severe damage it caused, brought punishing winds and strong tidal surges when it hit Rhode Island in late October. Houses in several communities along the south shore were damaged or destroyed by floods, falling trees, or wind damage. FEMA offers home repair grants, temporary housing payments, and unemployment payments to those affected. The maximum grant to individuals looking to repair their primary homes is $30,000.