CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Residents and business owners in disaster-declared Iowa counties are being urged by federal and state officials to apply for assistance as soon as possible and not to prejudge their eligibility for the variety of programs and services offered under the May 21 Presidential declaration.
"Individuals should not make any assumptions about their eligibility for immediate assistance or long range prevention programs before talking to the recovery specialists," said Curt Musgrave federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
There is adequate funding to cover all disaster-related losses. Applicants are not taking anything away from their neighbors when they apply for and receive assistance.
Many Iowans, more accustomed to helping others than to accepting help themselves, may be reluctant to apply. "Disaster-relief programs are funded by taxpayer money set aside just for this purpose," State Coordinating Officer Steve Zimmerman said. "It is not charity."
Those affected by the storms, flooding, and tornadoes should call FEMA's toll-free registration number, 1-800-462-9029 to apply. Those who are speech- or hearing-impaired can call TTY 1- 800-462-7585. The toll-free application number is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday until further notice.
"It's easy, efficient, and the only way to begin the process of helping us to help you," explains Musgrave. "So don't prejudge your eligibility. Disaster assistance programs are designed to provide the safety net that makes help available wherever it's needed."
The various programs and services offered flood survivors by FEMA and the Iowa Emergency Management Division (IEMD) include financial assistance to pay for temporary housing, emergency repairs or rebuilding, mortgage and rental costs; individual and family grants to cover serious unmet needs; crisis counseling; and disaster unemployment assistance. Low interest disaster loans may be available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for repairing or replacing damaged homes and personal property, as well as businesses.