COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Community relations specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working with the South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division (SCEPD) and local emergency management directors to reach out to people affected by Hurricane Floyd and subsequent flooding.
Teams are canvassing communities in Charleston, Georgetown and Horry counties, 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.
"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 the those communities are facing," Federal Coordinating Officer Larry Bailey explained.
While visiting affected areas throughout the state, specialists will 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," Bailey said.
According to State Coordinating Officer Stan McKinney, "We are making every attempt to inform disaster victims about the benefits available through a disaster declaration. That may require special means of communications and/or special types of assistance, all of which community relations teams will help to ensure."
Community relations team members will be reminding people that to apply for disaster assistance they must call the toll-free number at 1 800 462-9029. For people who are speech or hearing impaired, the number is TTY 1 800 462-7585. Both phone lines are open from 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.