KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With 18 active disaster declarations throughout the country, and more on the way, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) phones are ringing off the wall.
That's why disaster recovery officials are suggesting this tip: try to call when others are not.
"We're concerned that Kansas City area residents may not be getting through the first time they're calling to register for assistance," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Carol Coleman. "If that happens, we certainly don't want anyone to give up trying. Instead, we can suggest some non-peak times to call that hopefully will get them right through."
Coleman said FEMA's national registration center has been fielding an average of 8,500 registrations daily-most of which are coming during the morning and early afternoon.
"The best time right now to register is after 2 p.m.," Coleman said. "With the phones open until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, that provides a good window for people to call and get the recovery process going."
Persons with home or personal property damages from the early October severe storms can call FEMA to apply for state and federal disaster assistance at 1-800-462-9029. For the hearing- or speech-impaired, the TTY number is 1-800-462-7585. The call is free and operators are standing by from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
FEMA's national Helpline-the number to call for those who have already registered but have additional questions about their application-also is experiencing a high volume of calls. An average of 26,000 calls are coming into that line daily.
Coleman said the best time to call the Helpline is mid-morning from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. and mid-afternoon, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. The Helpline number is 1-800-525-0321 and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For those who are hearing- or speech-impaired, the TTY number is 1-800-660-8005.
And if calling in non-peak times still doesn't work?
"Please keep trying," Coleman says. "Our goal is to get assistance out as soon as possible."