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Honoring Our Veterans

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Today, our Nation pays tribute to the millions of military veterans who have served the United States as members of our Armed Forces.  We honor the courage, sacrifice, and dedication you exhibited in protecting our country.

To veterans here at FEMA, although many of you are no longer wearing a military uniform, you have elected to continue to serve your country by joining the FEMA team – and we thank you for bringing your skills, talents, and experiences to contribute to the success of our mission year round, and especially during our current response to Hurricane Sandy. 

And as part of that response, veterans from across DHS have also played an integral role as part of our larger FEMA team, making up the DHS Surge Capacity Force, who have been trained and deployed to New York and New Jersey serving in community relations and individual assistance roles.

I also want to thank all veterans and the many members of the FEMA family who continue to serve in the National Guard and Reserves and salute the many active duty service members and veterans in our partner agencies in federal, state, local and tribal organizations that share our emergency management goals.

On this day, please join me in thanking our veterans for all that they have done — and all they continue to do — to protect our country and to help keep America safe.

Posted on Sun, 11/11/2012 - 18:49

Veterans Helping Survivors on the Road to Recovery

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With so many New Yorkers facing the overwhelming and exhausting task of cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy, a group of former veterans known as Team Rubicon have become very popular. And rightly so.

“We were exhausted after the first few days,” said Rockaway homeowner Barbara Millet, “but they just showed up. My mother-in-law calls them angels.”

Founded by two former Marines following the Haitian earthquake in 2010, members of Team Rubicon use skills acquired in the military to assist people affected by disasters.  In the past 10 days, the team has deployed hundreds of volunteers to the Northeast to help Sandy survivors clean houses, remove trees, repair roofs and manage debris as they begin their road to recovery. 

FEMA partners with numerous voluntary agencies to provide a wide range of crucial assistance to survivors who may have needs beyond what the state or federal assistance can provide. And this Veterans Day the agency would like to salute Team Rubicon, FEMA’s nearly 3,000 veteran employees, the thousands of veterans in the other federal agencies supporting the response and the more than 12,000 active duty, reserve and National Guard personnel who have been a part of Sandy response operations.

In honor of Veterans Day, Team Rubicon has been joined by volunteers from other veteran groups who have come together for a day of service. Some 1,000 veterans traveled to New York to support survivors as they recover from Sandy.  Representatives from Give an Hour, the 6th Branch, The Mission Continues, the Pat Tillman Foundation, the Headstrong Project, Got Your 6, Student Veterans of America, and Team Red, White, & Blue will be participating.

“A lot of times, people will see us out in the community and they will ask us how they can volunteer” says Andrew Stevens, Team Rubicon’s National Director of Field Operations. “Because of our organizational skills and experience in disaster relief, we’re able to put them to work right away.”

FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL) works with state and local governments to establish volunteer reception centers. Unaffiliated volunteers who come to the centers are directed to one of the many voluntary organizations active in disaster relief efforts.  Other groups currently working with Sandy survivors in New York include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Southern Baptists, Adventist Community Services and other national and local voluntary organizations. 

In addition to these organizations, individuals interested in volunteering time or donating money to help New Yorkers recover from Sandy can contact New York Cares at 212-228-5000 or NYC Service.

Housing Options for Hurricane Sandy Survivors

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FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support New Jersey and New York in meeting the housing needs of survivors of Hurricane Sandy.

As we begin to focus on longer-term recovery from the storm, the affected states are taking the lead to identify their local needs and resources by convening State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces.  The State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces in New York and New Jersey involve a collaborative approach to addressing the temporary housing and long-term needs of the disaster survivors, including the collection of available rental resources, projecting housing needs and exploring other options.   Task Forces include representatives from state, local, and voluntary agencies, and federal partners including FEMA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The teams are working together to ensure they are making the greatest use of existing housing resources (such as apartments and rental units), enlisting voluntary agencies to make minor repairs so survivors can remain in their homes, and investigating other temporary housing options suitable for the area. 

In coordination with the State-Led Housing Task Forces, FEMA has several temporary housing assistance options that can help to ensure survivors have access to safe, secure housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The types of housing assistance used will depend on the needs of each individual community and can include:

  • Transitional Housing Assistance: At the request of New York and New Jersey, FEMA has activated its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program, which allows eligible survivors who are in shelters and cannot return to their homes due to storm-related damages to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available.
  • Housing Rental Assistance: If a home cannot be repaired easily to safe and sanitary conditions, then local rental resources are the preferred first choice for housing disaster survivors as they recover. FEMA authorized funds to increase the amount of rental assistance that it may provide eligible disaster survivors in New York and New Jersey to 125 percent.  This increase will be implemented when a survivor is recertified for a continued need for temporary housing assistance.  The approved increase is expected to make an additional 1,800 rental resources available for temporary housing of disaster-impacted families in New York, and an additional 1,200 rental resources available for similar families in New Jersey.

Families and individuals in eligible counties within New York and New Jersey, who are registered for federal disaster assistance and seeking rental resources can search through hundreds of listings on the FEMA Housing Portal. The FEMA Housing Portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by a variety of federal agencies, including HUD, USDA, and VA, and also lists rental properties provided by private organizations and property owners willing to help their neighbors during these difficult times.

To ensure FEMA is able to meet the housing needs of all survivors, FEMA is also pre-staging Temporary Housing Units (THUs) for possible use in New York and New Jersey, in the event that the units are requested by the states. Manufactured housing (i.e. temporary housing units) may be provided, at the request of the state, as the option of last resort in areas with limited available rental resources.  These manufactured homes are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are built to the same strong standards as millions of manufactured housing units being lived in across the nation and that consumers across the country can purchase.  FEMA is not a manufacturer of housing units; rather, it is a purchaser of manufactured homes.  Manufacturers are required, at a minimum, to meet the standards identified in the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Standard, 24 CFR 3280 Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. To date, State-led Housing Task Forces continue to review various housing options, and there have been no requests by New Jersey or New York for use of manufactured housing (temporary housing units).

The first step to receive housing assistance is by registering for disaster assistance. To register for assistance by phone, please call toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA, or 1-800-621-3362.  Disaster applicants who have a hearing or speech disability and use voice relay telecommunications services can also contact FEMA through the main toll-free number at 1-800-621-3362. Disaster applicants with a speech disability or hearing loss but use a TTY device, should instead call 1-800-462-7585 directly. An easy, online registration process also remains available anytime at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by using your web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov.  You can also visit a disaster recovery center, where you can talk with someone who can help determine the best course of action for recovery and available assistance programs.

Appealing a FEMA Assistance Denial Decision

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When you are faced with devastating losses we know that asking for assistance is never an easy thing to do, and we try our very best to make the process as easy as possible.  And from time-to-time through this process, we get questions about what your options might be if you receive a letter from FEMA denying your request for disaster assistance. So we want to make sure that you have the best information to help you receive the assistance you need.

If you receive a letter from FEMA stating you are not eligible for assistance, it does not necessarily mean your case is closed. Your letter tells you how to appeal the decision and what additional information you need to provide to FEMA, in order for your case to be reviewed again. It is important to note that survivors must submit an appeal within 60 days of the date on the determination letter they received.

When survivors apply for individual disaster assistance through FEMA, their needs are assessed based on a number of factors, including eligibility requirements laid out under federal law.  Sometimes people do not qualify for financial help right away. Some of the reasons for an initial turn down can be:

  • You might not have gotten your insurance settlement;
  • You may not have given FEMA all the information we need;
  • You haven’t given us proof of ownership or residence;
  • You may not have returned the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan application;
  • You may not have provided records that showed the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster;
  • You may not have signed essential documents.

Bottom line – these letters are the start of a conversation between you and FEMA, not the end.

Read your letter carefully. FEMA may only need you to provide additional information. Your appeal should include new or missing information, documents and damage repair estimates that support the appeal request.

It is important to date the appeal letter and mail it to the following address:

FEMA - Appeals Officer
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

Appeals may also be faxed to: 1-800-827-8112.

You can also call the helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 or visit a Disaster Recovery Center, where you can talk with someone about your particular situation. Either way, you can get more information about what to do next and give us information that might change our determination about your status.

So again, everyone should read their letters carefully, ask questions, ask for help, and tell us if you think we got it wrong. We are here to serve you – the disaster survivor – and it is your right to ask us to reconsider our decision.

Assisting Survivors Can Mean Many Forms of Assistance

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(Editor's note: the 800 number was changed to reflect the correct number 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-621-3362)

In response to Hurricane Sandy, the President has approved major disaster declarations in several states throughout the mid-Atlantic, making federal aid available to supplement state and local recovery efforts.  In some states, such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the President authorized the Individual Assistance program, which can provide funding to help eligible individuals and families in their own personal recovery processes. Disaster survivors in these states and other parts of the region have been through a lot, and we’re working hard to ensure that everyone who is eligible for federal assistance gets the help they need.

If you’re a survivor in one of the declared counties you should call to apply for federal assistance.  To register for assistance by phone, please call toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA, or 1-800-621-3362.  Disaster applicants who have a hearing or speech disability and use voice relay telecommunications services can also contact FEMA through the main toll-free number at 1-800-621-3362. Disaster applicants with a speech disability or hearing loss but use a TTY device, should instead call 1-800-462-7585 directly. An easy, online registration process also remains available anytime at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by using your web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov.  You can also visit a disaster recovery center, where you can talk with someone who can help determine the best course of action for recovery and available assistance programs.

Perhaps one of the best things to understand about relief following a disaster is that insurance is often the first and best way of protecting your family and property from disaster. Depending on the coverage limits, disaster survivors may be made far more whole by their insurance policy than they would from supplemental federal disaster assistance.  Eligibility criteria are set by law and are the same for all disasters, no matter where you live. For instance, under federal law we cannot duplicate benefits and your insurance coverage may impact your eligibility for federal assistance.

It is important to note that because several factors are considered when determining eligibility for federal assistance, we encourage all disaster survivors to apply for aid.  Individuals and families in a declared area, whose essential property has been damaged or destroyed and whose losses are not covered by insurance, may be eligible for disaster assistance.  The maximum amount of financial assistance a disaster survivor may receive under the Individual Assistance program is $31,900. 

While federal assistance is an important step in helping people recover from events like this storm, it is not always the best or only alternative. State and local governments have robust capabilities to respond to and recover from events, and the wide and diverse number of nonprofit voluntary agencies provide an extraordinary amount of disaster relief and recovery resources and services to disaster affected communities.  FEMA also works with many other federal and state agencies, such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to assist disaster survivors. We rely on the whole community’s participation, including the help of the public preparing for and insuring against the uncertainty of disaster.

FEMA Works with State and Locals to Prepare Region for the Nor’easter

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FEMA currently has more than 5,100 personnel working alongside our state and local partners. We are supporting disaster response and recovery operations throughout the areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy. We’re also standing ready to deploy additional resources if needed to respond to the Nor’easter that is forecasted to impact the region in the coming days. This new coastal storm is predicted to impact the region beginning after midnight Tuesday with impacts continuing Wednesday and into Thursday.

We have senior-level emergency management experts in operations, logistics, and recovery embedded, side-by-side with state and local emergency managers throughout New York and New Jersey to ensure clear lines of communication and immediately bring to bear the full resources of the federal government, as needed to respond to the Nor’easter or continue to the recovery efforts from Sandy.

FEMA personnel are on the ground (we call them community relations teams), going door to door, letting individuals know how to register with FEMA for financial assistance.  We have already had over 277,000 people apply for financial assistance, and over $250 million in approved.

At the requests of New York and New Jersey, FEMA is delivering commodities such as food, water, blankets, and generators to distribution points across the region impacted by Sandy, and as those commodities are distributed, we are pre-positioning additional resources and supplies to ensure they are in place if needed by our state and local partners to respond to the Nor’easter.   

Given that power outages continue in some areas, in anticipation of the approaching Nor’easter, state and local governments are opening warming stations.  You can find out more about those state and local preparations by visiting publically available links maintained by state and local governments that list resources such as open shelters and warming stations, including:

New York State

www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/

www.nyc.gov/html/misc/html/2012/warming_ctr.html

New Jersey

www.nj.gov/nj/home/features/spotlight/hurricane_sandy.shtml

www.nj211.org/hurricane.cfm

Connecticut

www.ct.gov/sandy

If you are in the potentially impacted area for the Nor’easter, there are some simple steps you should take to prepare, including listening to the directions of your local officials – if told to evacuate, you need to evacuate.  In addition, know the forecast for your area: you can listen to your NOAA weather radio and local news reports, or visit weather.gov for conditions in your area.  And finally, check on your neighbor to make sure that are also prepared for the weather.

For additional safety tips, visit Ready.gov

By working together, we can recover, we can rebuild, and we will respond to this Nor’easter as needed.

New York Stories in the Wake of Sandy

Editor's note: This was originally posted on the U.S. Dept. of Labor Blog.

No television image or news report can prepare you for this.

Families without power—unable to shower or wash their clothes for days—huddled together in churches serving as “warming centers” to provide refuge from the stinging cold outside…

Secretary Solis toured a hard hit area of Queens where flood waters and sand took their toll on the neighborhood.

Secretary Solis toured a hard hit area of Queens where flood waters and sand took their toll on the neighborhood.

Mounds of displaced sand plowed two stories high in residential neighborhoods, so homeowners could finally get through their front door to survey the damage inside…

Mothers with shopping baskets, and dads holding plastic bags, sifting through donation boxes at makeshift relief centers to find food and clothing to keep their children nourished and warm….

Wine sellers, florists, glass etchers, caterers, printers and other merchants surveying the wreckage of their small businesses, navigating knee-high dirty water to strip off drywall before dangerous mold forms, spreads and creates a health risk….

I spent yesterday in Brooklyn and Queens because the federal government has a responsibility here. It’s not enough to just send our thoughts and prayers.

Secretary Solis chats with a small child while his family collects needed food and clothing supplies.

Secretary Solis chats with a small child while his family collects needed food and clothing supplies.

President Obama told every member of his cabinet to work quickly to deliver critical aid wherever it’s needed. That’s why I exercised my discretion and approved $27.8 million under our National Emergency Grant program to fund 1,400 temporary jobs for New Yorkers to assist with clean-up efforts in the five boroughs. We cut the red tape and approved the funding less than 24 hours after it was requested.

I also approved $15.6 million for cleanup crews in New Jersey and $1.5 million for Rhode Island. As additional requests for assistance come in to the Department of Labor, they will be handled immediately. We also are providing emergency disaster unemployment insurance to affected workers who may not normally qualify, such as part-time and new workers.

During a visit at the Queens Workforce 1 Career Center (One Stop), Secretary Solis met with community leaders and Congressman Gregory W. Meeks to discuss grants to hire workers for clean up efforts.

During a visit at the Queens Workforce 1 Career Center (One Stop), Secretary Solis met with community leaders and Congressman Gregory W. Meeks to discuss grants to hire workers for clean up efforts.

There has been enough suffering, so we’re communicating the safety precautions for clean-up workers to take as they rebuild. They should assume all power lines are live, and act with appropriate caution. And they should wear hard hats, shoes and reflective vests, and follow proper safety procedures when using ladders, cutting down trees and working near other hazards. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are on the ground in all of the affected areas, providing training and educational materials so crews stay safe as they restore electricity, demolish structures, clear debris and repair infrastructure.

Even in the face of so much adversity, I also saw many scenes yesterday that left me inspired. I saw that rough-and-tumble New Yorker stereotype give way to countless demonstrations of kindness and sacrifice. I saw people more concerned about their neighbors than themselves.  They were standing elbow to elbow in food lines. They knew there was a finite amount of food, but they waited patiently. No one pushed or jostled. In fact, I saw people at the front of the line passing sandwiches back to the people behind them.

Make the Road New York, one of the groups visited by Secretary Solis has been collecting and distributing donations.

Make the Road New York, one of the groups visited by Secretary Solis has been collecting and distributing donations.

As always, the faith community sprang into action: At Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Brooklyn, a priest who looked like he hadn’t slept in days delivered comfort to people of every race, religion and background. “I’m going to pray for your strength,” I heard him say. St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Queens welcomed Jewish congregants so they could hold Sabbath services Friday night after their temple had been damaged in the storm.

I saw FEMA crews working side by side with state and local officials. Instead of turf wars or acrimony, there was a clear sense of shared purpose. I saw businesses like Lowe’s on sight with hundreds of buckets to help with debris removal. Relief workers brought canned goods. Local grocers supplied fresh fruit and sandwiches. As I was leaving, I saw the Army Corps of Engineers bringing in generators to provide power and warmth.

I will never forget the people I met or the unlikely scenes of hope that transpired in the midst of so much hardship and loss.  Long after the camera crews are gone, the rebuilding will continue. This government—and this department—will be there until the work is complete. In times like this, we are one.

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts

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One week ago today, millions of Americans from North Carolina to Maine braced for Hurricane Sandy.  That evening for over 12 hours, hurricane and tropical storm force winds, storm surge, and flooding impacted 12 states, with over eight million people losing power. Transportation systems in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, DC came to a halt, and more than 12,000 commercial flights were grounded.  And for the first time since 1888, the New York Stock Exchange was closed for two consecutive days because of a natural disaster.

Days before the storm stuck, at the direction of President Obama, the entire federal government was mobilizing to support the anticipated state and local response to the storm.  The President declared an emergency in over a dozen states, and resources and commodities like food, water and blankets were pre-positioned.  FEMA staff was deployed to work side-by-side with their state and local counterparts to ensure coordination in response to the impacts of the storm, and urban search and rescue teams were deployed to prepare to support state and local efforts.  First responders up and down the east coast knocked on doors to urge those in danger to get out of harm’s way. 

Before the tropical storm force winds stopped blowing on Tuesday, President Obama had declared a major disaster declaration for the states of New York and New Jersey, immediately making federal financial assistance available to individuals in the impacted regions.  As of this afternoon, over 230,000 individuals in the impacted areas have registered for financial assistance, and over $210 million has been provided to survivors.

We know that the human and economic toll of Hurricane Sandy will be severe and long-lasting.  More than 100 people lost their lives and were victims of this storm - they will not be forgotten.  In addition, there were billions in losses to small businesses and personal property.  But out of this tragedy, there are stories of survivors pulling together, neighbors helping neighbors, and communities beginning to rebuild.

We know that there are many challenges ahead and that recovery will not happen overnight.  Many survivors remain without power, and many are finding themselves without shelter.  FEMA will remain in support of our state, tribal and local partners, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Even as television cameras turn to other stories, we will be on the ground to support the survivors.

If you are a survivor, it’s important to take that the first step is to register with FEMA, by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or going online to www.disasterassistance.gov on your computer or mobile device. 

As we have seen in the past few days, a disaster can happen to any of us, but by working together as one team, we can recover and we can rebuild. 

Housing and Sheltering Needs of Hurricane Sandy

As FEMA and our federal partners continue to work with states to recover from Hurricane Sandy, an increasing number of residents whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by the storm have been displaced from their homes and are seeking sheltering alternatives. FEMA is working directly with states, which lead housing efforts, to identify solutions to meet the needs of survivors.

States and non-governmental organizations like the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, including The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and Southern Baptist Convention, are working to ensure displaced disaster survivors are provided shelter, food and water. As we reach the one week mark since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, we understand that many residents may be asking themselves what their options are as they confront the challenge of finding short-term accommodations and the possibility of needing long-term housing.

In response to those needs, and at the request of New York and New Jersey, FEMA has activated its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program, which allows eligible survivors who are in shelters and cannot return to their homes due to storm-related damages to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available. FEMA’s contracted vendor, Corporate Lodging Consultants, is maintaining a list of participating hotels and motels, and working to bring on more hotels to ensure that the needs of all survivors are being met. Hotel and motel owners who wish to become a participating hotel can sign up at https://ela.corplodging.com/

FEMA is actively processing registrations for disaster assistance through our call centers. We have inspectors on the ground assessing disaster damages and FEMA is approving financial assistance for housing (such as rental and home repair assistance) and financial assistance for other essential needs (such as disaster-related medical needs, replacement of lost clothing, furniture, and other necessary items).  As of 3pm, more than 230,000 individuals have registered for assistance, and more $203 million has been approved.

More than 1200 FEMA Community Relations (CR) specialists are on the ground meeting with residents in New York and New Jersey to explain the types of assistance that are available through the federal government and to help residents register.  

Even while we are focused on the immediate housing needs of survivors, in support of the State, the Federal Family is also beginning to look at the long-term recovery needs of survivors and their local communities.  FEMA has appointed Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators in New York and New Jersey who are assessing the unique recovery challenges that lay ahead.  One such example is the long-term housing needs of those displaced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support the State in meeting the housing needs of disaster survivors. This joint effort is comprised of housing and technical experts from the State, Housing & Urban Development (HUD), FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Small Business Administration (SBA) and voluntary agencies. Work being done by some of these partner agencies to address housing needs includes:

  • SBA provides low interest disaster loans to eligible homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace dwellings real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, and inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed. 
  • HUD is coordinating with FEMA, and affected States, to identify housing providers who may have available housing units, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners.  HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs give State and communities the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster survivors. HUD's Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home.
  • The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are waiving low-income housing tax credit rules that would prohibit owners of low-income housing from providing housing to survivors of Hurricane Sandy who do not qualify as low-income.  This means that there will be an increased availability of housing for disaster survivors and their families.

Through the FEMA Housing Portal, eligible individuals and families who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy can search for available rental units in their area that have been provided by Federal agencies such as HUD, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Veterans Administration, IRS, as well as by private organizations and individuals.

The first step for individuals to be considered for assistance is to register. There are several options for getting help, including:

  • 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; 
  • Registering online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov; or
  • Registering through a web-enabled mobile device at  m.fema.gov

Administrator Fugate Travels to New York to Survey Ongoing Response and Recovery Efforts

Author: 

Editor's Note: This post was updated on Monday, November 5, 2012.

Today, Administrator Fugate traveled to New York to meet with state and local officials and survey the ongoing response and recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy. 

Administrator Fugate started the day at a Unified Command Meeting with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, county executives, and other state and local leaders to reiterate that FEMA and the entire federal family are committed to bringing all the needed resources to support New York in its continued response to this disaster.  The group also discussed challenges ahead for the longer term recovery efforts. 

The Administrator then traveled to the New York City Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Brooklyn to meet with their emergency management team, led by Commissioner Joe Bruno. While there, Administrator Fugate participated in a call with the President during which the President received the latest update from his team on ongoing efforts to support governors and local officials in impacted states and made clear that he expects his team to stay completely focused on meeting the needs of our state and local partners, and the families that have been impacted by the storm.

Administrator Fugate then traveled to Breezy Point, Queens to survey the ongoing response and recovery efforts in the borough.  FEMA teams are on the ground there registering survivors for financial assistance from FEMA. It’s important to remember that the first step to receive financial assistance is to register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or visiting www.dissasterassistance.gov on a computer or mobile device. 

As of this afternoon, more than 182,000 people have registered with FEMA and over $158 million has been approved. 

The Administrator then drove to Rockaway, Queens to survey the response and recovery efforts.  There, FEMA staff, the National Guard, New York Fire Department and New York Police Department, and private sector cell phone companies, were all working together to support disaster survivors.  By far, the largest effort has been neighbors helping neighbors clean out homes and start down the road to recovery together.

Also in Rockaway, the Administrator stopped by a FEMA Mobile Disaster Recovery Center, where survivors can find out about the federal financial assistance programs that are available.  The center was being manned by FEMA staff as well as FEMACorps members (you can find out more about FEMACorps here). 

Finally, the Administrator stopped by the Community Church of Nazarene in Far Rockaway, where Rev. Dr. Les Mullings and Congressman Gregory Meeks showed the Administrator around the congregation which was working tirelessly taking in and distributing clothing, as well as serving hot meals to disaster survivors.  Volunteer organizations play such a critical role in disaster response and recovery, not only large organizations like the Red Cross, but small congregations such as this one.

Rockaway, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2012 -- Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, speaks with Hurricane Sandy survivors at the Community Church of the Nazarene. Administrator Fugate visited several parts of New York that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Rockaway, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2012 -- Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, speaks with Hurricane Sandy survivors at the Community Church of the Nazarene. Administrator Fugate visited several parts of New York that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

What was clear from this trip was that the impacted communities are moving forward, but this will be a long recovery, and FEMA will be there supporting states and locals through it all.  Only by working together as a team, will we be successful.  Right now, the first step is for individuals to register for assistance.  Once again, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA, or visit www.disasterassistance.gov on your computer or m.fema.gov on a mobile phone.  Working together, we will recover and we will rebuild.

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