Nearly 100,000 Ala. Residents Apply for Hurricane Disaster Assistance

September 29, 2005

Amid a tumultuous month that began and ended with powerful hurricanes that hammered broad areas of the Gulf Coast, the state/federal recovery effort in Alabama reportedly made significant progress in bringing much needed assistance to disaster-stricken homeowners, renters, businesses and hard-hit communities, according to disaster recovery officials.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that approved disaster-related funding in Alabama now totals more than $91.8 million. Officials said that 99,942 residents have registered for some form of assistance since President Bush declared parts of the state eligible for disaster aid on Aug. 29.

Approved funding totals include:

* More than $61.78 million for 28,927 FEMA Housing Assistance grants to help pay for temporary housing and emergency home repairs;
* Other Needs Assistance, a state/FEMA program for necessary disaster-related expenses not covered by other programs, totals $19.1 million in approved grants for 18,595 individuals and households;
* To date, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $1.6 million for long-term, low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses; and
* The Agency’s Public Assistance (PA) program that reimburses local governments for a wide range of disaster-related infrastructure expenses has obligated $9.86 million to date, largely for debris removal and emergency protective measures.

“Our joint efforts have helped not only state residents, but also thousands of displaced evacuees from neighboring states seeking refuge or a new beginning in Alabama,” said Mike Bolch, senior deputy federal coordinating officer in Alabama. Bolch said that the main recovery priority continued to focus on getting residents and evacuees into safe and secure housing.

A snapshot of other disaster aid in Alabama :

* Nine Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are currently open and assisting disaster victims, with two additional centers opening later this week. To date 16,746 state residents or temporary evacuees currently residing in Alabama have visited the centers;
* Requests for housing inspections now total 76,754. Nearly 270 FEMA-contracted inspectors have completed 60,992 assessments;
* 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. Officials said that various types of facilities currently house an estimated 2,717 residents;
– Three interim housing facilities are home to 216 residents;
– Thirteen state parks continue to offer free-of-charge camping sites with 455 travel trailers currently housing 1,365 individuals and families, with hundreds of additional travel trailers inspected and ready for occupancy;
– Private and commercial sites house an additional 993 evacuees;
* About 430 people remain in the 20 shelters still open in the state. Peak population once reached 5,334 in 60 shelters. The goal is to have all current shelter residents placed in more substantial interim housing by Oct. 15;
* Currently 170 State/FEMA community relations specialists are conducting door-to-door outreach in storm-damaged neighborhoods;
* The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has received more than 4,700 claims for disaster losses due to flooding in Alabama . Total disbursements to policyholders for approved claims exceed $7.5 million. The federally backed program has 41,912 policies in force in Alabama ;
* Of the estimated 4M cubic yards of storm debris, almost 1.4M cubic yards has been cleared. FEMA reimburses state and local governments and certain qualified non-profits for debris removal costs but does not handle debris removal itself .

Affected Alabama residents and businesses, as well as displaced evacuees currently residing in the state, are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY), for the hearing- and speech-impaired.

The lines remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice and multilingual registration personnel are able to assist applicants in several languages. Internet registration is available online at .

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