DULUTH, Minn. -- Community relations specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working with the Minnesota Division of Emergency Management (DEM) and county emergency management directors to reach out to people affected by the severe storms and flooding that began on July 4. Eligible counties include Cook, Itasca and St. Louis.
Teams are canvassing communities in the declared areas offering individuals and small businesses information about available disaster relief programs, including grants to help pay for temporary housing needs, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses as well as low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged property.
"We rely on our community relations staff not only to get the word out but also to find out first hand the problems communities and individuals in those communities are facing," Federal Coordinating Officer Ron Sherman explained.
Team members are going door-to-door to talk with individuals who have suffered damage or loss. They will also meet with representatives of community-based agencies, community leaders and public officials. When community relations staff identify unmet needs, information will be communicated to the state or federal staff best able to respond. "Reaching out in this way lets people know that we're doing everything we can to help," Sherman added.
According to Kevin Leuer, State Coordinating Officer for the disaster recovery operation, "We are making every attempt to inform disaster victims about the benefits available through a disaster declaration. That may require special means of communication and/or special types of assistance, all of which community relations teams will help to ensure."
Team members will be reminding people that they can begin the disaster assistance process by calling toll-free at 1 800 462-9029. For those who are speech or hearing impaired, the TTY number to call is 1 800 462-7585.