Community Relations Specialists Visiting Flood Damaged Areas of New York

May 19, 2005

Community relations specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), after first meeting with county emergency managers and local officials, are going door-to-door to make sure anyone affected by the April 2-4 storms and floods will get the federal and state assistance to which they are entitled.

The specialists canvass communities in the declared areas, offering individuals and small businesses information about available disaster relief programs, including grants to help pay for temporary housing needs, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses.

“We rely on our community relations staff not only to get the word out, but also to find out, first hand, the problems communities and individuals in the communities are facing,” said State Coordinating Officer James Tuffey, the director of the New York State Emergency Management Office.

The specialists also meet with representatives of community- and faith-based organizations. When an unmet need is identified, information is communicated to the state or federal staff best able to respond.

“Reaching out in this way lets people know that we are doing everything we can to help, and making every attempt to inform disaster victims about the benefits available to them through this disaster declaration. This may require special means of communications and/or special types of assistance, all of which the community relations specialists help to ensure,” said Tuffey.

Declared counties for individual assistance include: Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Orange, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga and Ulster

The FEMA specialists will be reminding people that to register for disaster assistance, they first must call the toll-free number at 1-800-621-3362. For those who are speech- or hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). Both phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday until further notice.

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