Edited: May 1, 4:10 pm EDT
As FEMA and our federal partners continue to work with the states in support of their recovery efforts, there has been a great deal of focus on the need to shelter a significant number of residents whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by tornadoes and other severe weather.
States and non-government groups like the Red Cross are still very much involved in ensuring displaced disaster survivors are provided shelter, and sustaining those shelters with the needed supplies like food and water. We understand that many residents may be asking themselves what's next as they are confronted with the challenge of finding short-term housing and the possibility of needing long-term accommodations.
FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support the state in meeting its housing needs. This joint effort is comprised of housing and technical experts from the State, FEMA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Army Corps of Engineers, Small Business Administration (SBA) and voluntary agencies. Working together, the team will partner with the state as they establish housing priorities; seeking ways to make the greatest use of existing housing resources, such as apartments and rental units; and deploying temporary housing units, if needed.
As extensive work continues to restore power, open roadways, and remove debris so that homes can begin to be repaired or rebuilt, FEMA is:
- Working with our partners at HUD to identify areas of greatest need for housing, and to identify available rental resources in impacted areas to assist families displaced by these storms to find longer-term housing solutions;
- Working with the Army Corps of Engineers and the local communities to identify areas where the Corps could provide temporary home repairs, such as covering broken windows or holes in roofs, so that residents can move back or stay in their home for shelter until more extensive repairs can be made;
- Working with our partners at SBA to help individuals and businesses apply for low interest loans so that they can more quickly rebuild or repair their damaged homes and replace lost property; and
- Perhaps most importantly, actively taking registration information through our call centers. We have inspectors on the ground assessing the damages suffered by those who have registered, and FEMA is approving financial assistance for housing (such as rental assistance and home repair money) and financial assistance for other essential needs (such as disaster-related medical needs, replace lost clothing, furniture and other necessary items).
The first step for individuals to be considered for assistance is to register. Our Community Relations (CR) teams are on the ground meeting with residents to explain the types of assistance that is available through the federal government and helping residents to register. If you have questions, we encourage you speak with a CR team if they knock on your door (just remember, all FEMA staff will have FEMA identification) or call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) and press "1".
In addition to in-person CR teams, there are several options for getting help:
- registering online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov,
- registering through a web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov, or
- calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
FEMA has also expanded its agreement with Operation HOPE to bring financial experts in to Disaster Recovery Centers to provide guidance to disaster survivors on how to apply the funds provided by FEMA and the Small Business Administration, such as funds provided for home repair, to speed their recovery.