FEMA Assistance to Rita Victims in Texas Tops $544 Million

December 5, 2005

The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided more than $544.1 million in assistance to some 311,113 individuals affected by Hurricane Rita since the Sept. 24 federal disaster declaration.

A snapshot of other disaster aid in Texas in response to Hurricane Rita:

* As of close of business Dec. 3, some 476,051 individuals and families had registered for assistance.
* FEMA has disbursed more than $2.27 million in Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) as of Dec. 3. The deadline for applying for DUA has now passed.
* Seven fixed Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are operating in Texas. To date, nearly 327,765 state residents or temporary evacuees residing in the state have visited the centers to speak with recovery specialists.
* FEMA programs and services include grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor home repairs and other disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance and other sources; crisis counseling; referrals to free legal aid; and low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover uninsured or underinsured losses to the primary residence and contents.
* Applicants may qualify for Other Needs Assistance. These state-administered grants help homeowners and renters with serious needs and necessary expenses caused by the disaster and may be used to help pay for:
– Disaster-related medical and dental costs
– Household items and clothing
– School supplies and tools required for an applicant’s job
– Items used to get applicants back in their damaged homes, such as a generator, chainsaw, air purifier, humidifier or dehumidifier. These cleanup items are eligible for reimbursement if they were purchased between Sept. 22 and Oct. 21, 2005. Applicants should save receipts.
* The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), cities and counties have hauled away an estimated 6.3 million cubic yards of debris. The updated total estimate of debris from Hurricane Rita in Texas is more than 8.6 million cubic yards.
* The USACE estimate 27,000 requests for Blue Roofs (heavy duty plastic sheeting patches) have been processed. More than 21,000 Blue Roofs have been completed.
* FEMA has received more than 2,700 requests for travel trailers. Some 1,208 units are occupied. Accessible units with a wider entrance, handrails and low-step tub entry also are available.
* Five Hurricane Katrina shelters remain open with a population of 94. One of these shelters houses an additional 70 Hurricane Rita evacuees.
* Some 364 housing inspectors are in the field conducting inspections of damaged property in the hardest hit areas to verify losses of those residents who have filed applications. More than 299,155 inspections have been completed.
* In cooperation with the State of Texas, city housing authorities and local and private agencies, FEMA recently established HELP, which stands for Housing, Employment, Location and Placement. The program was designed to smooth the transition of some 40,000 Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees from hotels and shelters into longer-term housing by Dec. 15. As of Dec. 2, about 33,000 individual evacuees are still occupying hotel and motel rooms in Texas.

FEMA has established a toll-free Housing Locator Service at 1-800-762-8740.
To be considered for a wide range of services and financial assistance, Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims first must register with FEMA by Jan. 11, 2006. The toll-free number is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing- and speech-impaired. Applicants also may visit their local Disaster Recovery Center. Those already registered should call to update their file information, change their current mailing address, check their status or ask questions.

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