Disaster Officials Offer Tips to Speed Assistance in New England

November 18, 2005

Disaster recovery officials overseeing efforts to assist area residents dealing with flood damage and loss caused by October’s record-setting rainfall suggest a take-charge action plan for individuals and businesses to help speed the possibility of obtaining state and federal disaster aid:

* Register as soon as possible. Homeowners, renters, and business owners who suffered flood losses must call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) registration line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to be eligible for disaster assistance. Individuals with hearing or speech impairments should call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice. Applications can also be done online at http://www.fema.gov ;

* Register, even if you are insured. Your insurance coverage may not be adequate and some foundation damage may not show up until later. Anyone who suffered any flooding damage or loss should register for assistance including those who only suffered basement flooding;

* Remember, disaster assistance covers a wide range of flood losses. Disaster-related damage or loss of essential personal property, anything from a wheelchair to a major appliance (including hot-water heaters, septic tanks, etc), may qualify for some form of federal/state assistance;

* Stay in touch and keep appointments after you have registered for disaster assistance. A FEMA inspector will make an appointment to visit your home, usually within two to three days. Make every effort to be at home or call to change the appointment by using the FEMA Helpline also at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), (TTY) 1-800-462-7585;

* Visit a Disaster Recovery Center if you have questions or need more information.

* Return all forms promptly. After registering, you may receive a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loan application package in the mail. Fill out and return these forms promptly since they are an essential part of the disaster-assistance process. Please note: completing these forms does not obligate you to accept the loan; and

* Rebuild with disaster prevention in mind. If you receive an emergency housing repair grant from FEMA, a follow-up letter will arrive after you receive your check. That letter will identify the purpose of the grant and will highlight the need to make repairs that will lessen the risks of future losses. Examples include raising electrical junction boxes and elevating major appliances to minimize floodwater damage.

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