DES MOINES, Iowa – Since the start of the pandemic the coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 Iowans. Many times families trying to cope with the loss of a loved one also struggle with how to pay for the funeral.
“They left before their time and I find that completely disastrous,” Laura Lundberg, a funeral director at Iles Funeral Homes, said.
Lundberg has seen firsthand the loss and heartache caused by COVID-19. Even when the pandemic impacted what Iles Funeral Homes could provide, she knew the financial burden would still be felt.
“So even when you didn’t have 100 people going to a church to have a funeral, the cost was about the same and that just continues today,” Lundberg explains.
Since April, FEMA has been reimbursing funeral and burial expenses of loved ones who died of COVID-19. Latest numbers from FEMA show 1,900 out of the 2,600 Iowans that have applied so far were awarded funds of nearly $14 million.
“The families that we’ve dealt with have been very grateful that this was out there. It kind of gave him a sense of relief,” Benjamin Eldridge, president of the Iowa Funeral Directors Association, said.
Eldridge knows the impact this reimbursement can make, and wants Iowans to know they’re still able to apply for this assistance.
“A lot of people, especially in the younger generations, don’t necessarily think of death and to get prepared for it,” Eldridge said. “So I think that’s where these funds have really eased that financial burden.”
Here’s what you need to know about the program:
- People can apply by calling the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line. The toll-free number is 844-684-6333.
- FEMA will reimburse funds up to $9,000.
- The assistance will be for funeral expenses since Jan. 20, 2020 and ongoing. Current and future services will be eligible for payment.
- The death must have occurred in the United States.
- The death certificate must indicate COVID-19 as the cause of death.
To learn more about FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, click here.