New York, NY -- Outreach teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO), New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Department of Justice are working to make sure people affected by the World Trade Center attack know how they can get the help they need to begin the recovery process.
In hard-hit Battery Park City, FEMA community relations teams, and representatives from the state Office of Mental Health and United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) have been distributing disaster assistance information and going door-to-door to residents in accessible areas. The teams are listening to people's concerns and providing assistance information to victims and their families.
"We listenand we listen with a big heart. The victims need to tell their stories and that's what we're here for," said FEMA Deputy Community Relations Coordinator Rita Ramos.
"The teams are a vital link between the community and relief agencies," Federal Coordinating Officer Ted Monette said. "This one-on-one contact helps us clear up situations that sometimes get in the way of providing the help people need."
The initial teams, four community relations field officers, and state and city partners have been talking directly with victims, displaced workers and people with damage to their homes. The message is information about assistance for those people with housing or transportation needs, damage to personal property, business losses or loss of employment or earnings. In addition, those with expenses such as disaster-related medical bills, mental health counseling, lost earnings or support due to injury or loss of life may also be eligible to receive assistance.
"We recognize that people who have lost so much because of this tragedy need information on assistance," State Coordinating Officer Edward F. Jacoby, Jr. said. "The people working on these teams have answers, or know where the answers can be found."
Because of the urgent need to provide timely and accurate information to disaster victims, federal agencies have activated disaster "reservists" to work in affected communities. The state has also assigned personnel from several agencies to work with the outreach teams.
FEMA reservists are called to work at times of disaster. They travel away from their homes, families and often times other jobs or businesses to help supplement the efforts of full-time state and federal employees.
The teams will be available for as long as needed to assist people through the long recovery process.