Great Bend, KS -- Many residents and business owners of Barton County received losses and damages from the severe storms and tornadoes on April 21. State and federal officials encourage anyone who suffered damage to apply for assistance as soon as possible and not to prejudge their eligibility for the variety of programs and services offered under the April 27 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 Carlos Mitchell, federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Many Kansans, 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 Gene Krase said. "It is not charity."
Those affected by the storms, hail, 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 Mitchell. "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 by FEMA and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) 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 are available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for repairing or replacing damaged homes and personal property, as well as businesses.