MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – Starting Monday, FEMA will accept applications to help pay for pandemic-related funeral expenses. The funds will pay up to $9,000 per funeral, going back to January of 2020. With more than 2300 COVID-19 deaths in the Miami Valley and counting, a lot of families are eligible. 

Sam Routsong is a funeral director at Routsong Funeral Home in Kettering. He says, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, death is never convenient for a family.” 

Routsong says one-half to two-thirds of families were not prepared for funeral costs, and that was before the pandemic. “With COVID, especially now, that number has definitely gone up. Just because it really can be unexpected.” 

But now FEMA will start paying out up to $9,000 per funeral to help cover expenses. Routsong says, “I would say that for a vast majority of our families here that would completely cover, if not make a significant chunk, in the services that we provide.” 

Applications are now open for to help with expenses for funeral services, internment, or cremation. The funds will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. Documentation could be an official death certificate, funeral expense documents like receipts and contracts, or proof of funds from other sources for funeral costs. 

Routsong says many families had to hold off on full funeral services due to restrictions on gatherings. “You get into this situation where if you don’t do that there’s grief that’s unresolved, things that need to be said, people that want to give condolences.” 

Routsong says it’s been difficult to not comfort families with full services during the pandemic, but this funding could help them have full services when things get closer to normal. “It’s hard enough for people. But at least there’s something that we can do about it. Yes, it’s been a hard time, but we can help.” 

Right now there is no deadline to apply for the funeral funds. Click here to learn more about the FEMA application process