Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported today that President Bush has ordered the release of federal disaster resources and funds for New York to support emergency response efforts and aid victims of the catastrophic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center this morning.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the President took the action based on New York Gov. George E. Pataki's expedited request for federal assistance.
"My heart and prayers are with the families of those who were killed and injured today, especially with the families that are waiting for news of loved ones," Allbaugh said. "All of the resources of FEMA, including our 5,000 employees, are at the President's disposal. Eight Urban Search and Rescue teams are en route to New York, as are medical teams. We will do all we can."
Allbaugh said the emergency resources released by the President's major disaster declaration can range from the use of federal personnel, equipment and lifesaving systems to the delivery of food, water, medical supplies and other essential materials as required for sustaining human life.
In addition, federal assistance will be available to supplement the recovery needs of stricken individuals, families and business owners in the counties of Bronx, Kings, New York (boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan), Queens and Richmond.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include funds to help meet temporary housing needs, grants for medical, funeral and other serious disaster-related expenses, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance. Unemployment assistance and funding for crisis counseling services also will be available under the declaration.
Additionally, Allbaugh said federal funds will be provided to the state and affected local governments in the designated counties to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing public facilities damaged by the explosions and fires. The state also can apply for funding on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Allbaugh, who designated the counties eligible for federal aid following the declaration, indicated that assistance may be made available to additional jurisdictions as soon as damage can be assessed throughout the stricken area.
Theodore A. Monette of FEMA was named by Allbaugh to coordinate the federal relief effort. Monette said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin the disaster application process on Wednesday, September 12, by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.