P.R. Farmers, Ranchers Urged to Register for Federal Disaster Assistance

November 18, 2004

Farmers and ranchers from the 58 disaster-declared municipalities of Puerto Rico who sustained damages as a result of Tropical Storm Jeanne may be eligible for a variety of disaster assistance programs through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA), and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Farmers and ranchers are urged to register with FEMA, as well as contacting the FSA office for assistance on their agricultural losses,” federal coordinating officer Peter Martinasco said. “By registering with FEMA, individuals are able to access disaster assistance programs that may be able to help them with home, property, and personal losses not related to their agricultural businesses. Transportation, medical, dental and funeral expenses related to Tropical Storm Jeanne may also be covered.”

Monday, Nov. 22, 2004 is the deadline to register for FEMA and SBA disaster assistance. “We are urging farmers and ranchers to register for aid by calling FEMA’s toll-free registration number, 1-800- 621-3362, which is operating daily, from 6 a.m. to midnight,” Martinasco said. People who are hearing impaired may call, TTY: 1-800-462-7585.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has made available low-interest emergency loans to farmers and ranchers for repair or restoration of disaster-damaged farm property. To register with FSA, farmers should contact the FSA central office at (787) 294-1613.

Through SBA, farmers and ranchers may be eligible for a low-interest loan for home or personal property damaged from the storm. People with questions about disaster loans can visit an SBA loan officer at any of the five Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs). The centers are open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm, and are located in:

Aguada: Fine Arts Center, Café Teatro, Paz Street, corner of Manuel Ruíz (front of Plaza Cristóbal Colón) Canóvanas: Centro Comunitario Usos Múltiples, Luis Muñoz Rivera Street (corner with Betances)
Fajardo: Municipal Legislature Hall, City Hall (2nd Floor), Dr. López Street (corner of Muñoz Rivera St.) Santa Isabel: Centro de Usos Múltiples Francisco Robledo, Monseñor Ferrer Avenue (near Urb. Santiago Apóstol- in front of Parque Infantil Melween Cedeño) Ciales: María Isabel Blanco Library, Rd. 149 (entering the town; in front of the cemetery).

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