Olympia, WA -- Federal and State disaster officials remind residents and businesses affected by the Nisqually Earthquake on Feb. 28, not to wait for a local building inspector to inspect their home or business before calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) toll-free number for disaster assistance.
"We urge residents who have or think they have earthquake damage to call 1-800-462-9029 to register for assistance," said Federal Coordinating Officer Bill Lokey. Hearing or speech-impaired persons may call TTY 1-800-462-7585. The lines are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
"It's come to our attention that some people are under the impression that they must first contact a local building inspector to visit their home before they contact FEMA. This is not true," said Lokey. "It's also not true that FEMA inspectors red-tag homes." County or City inspectors determine whether a home is unsafe or not.
Individuals, families and businesses affected by the earthquake in 20 counties have until April 30, 2001, to register for federal and state disaster assistance. The counties eligible for assistance include Benton, Clark, Clallam, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Whatcom, and Yakima.
Residents and businesses in these counties may be eligible for disaster relief programs including grants for temporary housing from FEMA, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for affected homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes.
FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate individuals for their entire loss. FEMA may help pay for basic needs not covered under insurance policies. Some disaster aid does not have to be paid back, while other help may be in the form of loans (from SBA). Following a disaster, SBA provides the primary source of federal assistance for private sector losses through its disaster loan program. Victims should not delay in filing an application for SBA assistance.