St. Paul, MN -- A toll--free application telephone number is now operational for those who suffered property damage or loss in the declared counties affected by severe winter storms, flooding and tornadoes, which began March 23. Even if residents have already registered with the Red Cross, Salvation Army or another voluntary or have reported damage to local officials, they need to apply for federal and state disaster assistance by calling a special toll--free number.
James Roche, federal coordinating officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Kevin Leuer, director and state coordinating officer, Minnesota Division of Emergency Management (DEM), said those affected by the disaster may apply for assistance immediately by calling this toll--free application number, 1 800 462--9029, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (CDT), Monday through Saturday, until further notice. Those with speech or hearing impairment may call TTY 1 800 462--7585.
In response to a request from Governor Ventura, President Bush signed a major disaster declaration May 16. The declaration designated the counties of Benton, Chippewa, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, St. Louis, Stevens Wabasha, Washington, Winona, and Yellow Medicine and the Tribal governments of Prairie Island and Upper Sioux eligible for federal aid to help meet the recovery needs of stricken residents and business owners.
The declaration makes residents of these counties eligible for a wide range of programs such as funding for disaster housing assistance, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low--interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property, disaster
unemployment assistance, and grants for serious need and necessary expenses not met by other programs.
Residents and businesses that suffered damage or loss and have insurance coverage should first contact their insurance company. If they find they have unmet needs they should apply for disaster assistance.
"Your phone call is your application for state and federal assistance available under the disaster declaration. Telephone application has proven to be the simplest, quickest and most efficient way to apply," Roche said.When calling to apply have the following information available:
- Your current phone number;
- Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying;
- Your Social Security number, if available;
- A general list of damages and losses you suffered;
- Good directions to the property that was damaged;
- If insured, your insurance policy number, or the agent and company name; and,
- General financial information.
According to Roche, individuals who have suffered damage and have unmet needs are encouraged to call the application number immediately. "Even if you don't have all the information necessary or it was lost in the flooding, don't prejudge your eligibility," he said. "It's important that all residents get the assistance they are entitled to."
The declaration also makes federal funds available to State and local governments for the repair and replacement of disaster--damaged public facilities. The counties include Big Stone, Carver, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Dakota, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Houston, Lac qui Parle, McLeod, Meeker, Morrison, Norman, Polk, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, St. Louis, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Washington, Wilkin, Winona, and Yellow Medicine and the Tribal governments of Prairie Island and Upper Sioux. The declaration also makes cost--shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce disaster risks.
More counties may b...