Community Relations specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working with the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and county emergency management directors to reach out to people in Indiana affected by the flooding and severe winter storms that began on Jan. 1 and continuing.
Eligible counties include Bartholomew, Benton, Blackford, Boone, Brown, Carroll, Cass, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Daviess, Decatur, Delaware, Dubois, Floyd, Fountain, Gibson, Grant, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Henry, Howard, Huntington, Jackson, Jay, Jennings, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Martin, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Orange, Owen, Parke, Pike, Posey, Putnam, Randolph, Rush, Scott, Shelby, Sullivan, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, Warren, Warrick, Washington, Wells, and White.
Teams are canvassing some communities in the declared areas offering individuals and small business owners information about available disaster assistance programs, including grants to help pay for temporary disaster housing needs; grants for essential repairs needed to make a residence safe, sanitary and functional; low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged property; and replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.
“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 those communities are facing,” Ron Sherman, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer, said.
Team members are going door-to-door to talk with individuals who have suffered damage or loss. They will also meet with representatives of community-based agencies, community leaders and public officials. When community relations staff identifies unmet needs, information will be communicated to the state or federal staff best able to respond.
“Reaching out in this way lets people know that we’re doing everything we can to help,” Sherman said.
According to Phil Roberts, SEMA’s state coordinating officer for the disaster recovery operation, “We are making every attempt to inform disaster victims about the benefits available through a disaster declaration. The Community Relations teams may discover that effort will require special means of communication and/or special types of assistance.”
Team members will be reminding individuals that they can begin the disaster assistance process by calling FEMA’s toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). For those with speech or hearing impairment, the special TTY number to call is 1 800 462-7585. Both numbers are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. Individuals with Internet access now have the option to apply on the agency’s Web site at www.fema.gov where valuable recovery information is also available.
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