Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina ripped through southern Alabama, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved $41.1 million in disaster aid to 20,868 households in 10 disaster-declared counties. More than 5,000 new registrations are coming in daily according to disaster recovery officials.
FEMA has received applications from 47,958 Alabama residents through its teleregistration line 800-621-FEMA (3362). The TTY number for speech- and hearing-impaired is 800-462-7585. Internet registration is available online at www.fema.gov .
Federal Coordinating Officer Ron Sherman said that the state/FEMA effort was focused on meeting both immediate and longer-term disaster-related needs for state residents and evacuees from neighboring states. “The recovery effort here is linked to the devastation in the entire Gulf Coast region and Alabama has really stepped-up to help thousands of displaced evacuees,” Sherman said. “We are ready to help them with funds, support and personnel to meet that commitment.”
State Coordinating Officer Bruce Baughman said that state/FEMA recovery specialists were expanding the disaster outreach effort throughout Alabama. “Our Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) and community-relations teams are bringing one-to-one disaster information to many communities,” Baughman said. He added that in addition to fixed-site DRCs, three mobile recovery centers equipped with communication and computer links were making a series of stops in several declared counties.
A brief snapshot of disaster aid in Alabama :
* Of the $41,179,425 approved, more than $33.05 million is for Housing Assistance;
* Other Needs Assistance totals more than $8.12 million for necessary expenses not covered by other programs;
* Ten Alabama counties are eligible for FEMA individual assistance for Hurricane Katrina loss or damage. They are: Baldwin, Choctaw, Clark, Greene, Hale, Mobile , Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Washington;
* Currently, 146 State/FEMA community relations specialists are conducting door-to-door outreach in storm-damaged neighborhoods;
* Six Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are currently open and assisting disaster victims. To date 6,952 state residents or temporary evacuees currently residing in Alabama have visited the centers;
* To date, 37,992 requests for housing inspections to assess and verify storm-related damage have been issued. Nearly 50 percent (or 18,585) are complete with 234 FEMA-contracted inspectors in the state conducting inspections;
* In addition to meeting the needs of Alabama residents, the state has partnered with FEMA to develop alternative housing sites for displaced evacuees from neighboring Gulf Coast states. State parks continue to offer free-of-charge camping sites and the Noble Training Center in Anniston ( Fort McPherson ) is ready to provide interim housing for displaced hurricane survivors;
* A FEMA Shelter Liaison Team will provide technical assistance to local Alabama emergency managers to help deal with the impact of relocated evacuees;
* Alternate temporary housing resources remain a high priority. More than 92 travel trailer units are now occupied statewide with additional sites being readied daily;
* As of Wednesday, the U.S. Small Business Administration had issued 28,313 applications for long-term, low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses;
* Public Assistance (PA) reimbursement has been extended to 22 counties to help the state and local governments and certain qualified non-profit entities cope with disaster-related infrastructure costs. The counties are: Baldwin, Bibb, Clarke, Colbert, Cullman, Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Marengo, Marion, Mobile, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Wilcox, and Winston; Eligible PA categories include debris removal, emergency protective measures, road systems and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings and contents, public utilities, parks, and recreational facilities.
The expanded PA designation will reimburse local governments 100 percent of their approved costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures costs incurred for the 60-day period following the Emergency Declaration by President Bush for Alabama on Aug. 29. All other categories will be reimbursed on a 75 percent federal, 25 percent non-federal cost share basis.
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