THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- One week after tornadoes hit four counties in southwestern Georgia, 439 area residents have registered for some sort of assistance according to federal and state officials coordinating the recovery effort.
"We are pleased at the initial response, but we want everyone who needs assistance to register," said Tom Davies, federal coordinating officer overseeing the recovery effort. "The process is designed to be fast, friendly, and responsive to the needs of disaster victims," said Davies in announcing that $110,550 in disaster housing assistance had already been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- Applicants may qualify for assistance under several federal and state programs. They include disaster housing assistance, grants to meet disaster-related needs, low-interest U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans, Disaster Unemployment Assistance for individuals not covered by other types of unemployment benefits, legal services, and, in some cases, grants to cover serious needs and necessary expenses not covered by insurance. The specific amount and type of assistance provided varies from case to case.
- If an applicant does not qualify for a SBA loan, the Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program, may be able to provide assistance for necessary disaster-related expenses and serious needs. These grants may be applied to disaster-related expenses such as essential home repairs, replacement of essential personal property, transportation, or the rental of equipment to assist with recovery. Grants may also be used for items not normally covered under the SBA Disaster Loan program such as disaster-related medical and dental bills.
- Gary W. McConnell, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) said, "the IFG grant program provides financial help for people who have exhausted all other means of assistance and still have serious unmet needs as a result of the tornadoes. The amount of the grant depends on the unmet needs of the applicant."
These aid programs are available through the disaster declaration issued by President Clinton on February 15 at the request of Governor Barnes. Residents and business owners in the declared counties who have suffered losses in the tornadoes are urged to call FEMA's teleregistration line at 1-800-462-9029. The toll-free number will operate from 8a.m. to 6p.m (ET), Sunday through Saturday. Individuals with hearing or speech impairments who use special keyboard equipment (TTY) should call 1-800-462-7585.
The registration process takes about 20 minutes and is the essential first step in requesting disaster aid. Callers should be prepared to provide Social Security numbers, address at the time of the tornadoes, telephone numbers and addresses where they can be reached, and a description of losses.