Oklahoma City, OK -- Disaster recovery officials from the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management (ODCEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are doing everything possible to get financial assistance out to ice storm victims as quickly as possible, but some Oklahomans have proven to be faster than a speeding computer system.
"We realized that some applicants sent their receipts for a generator and chain saw to us quicker than our system could get out a letter and confidentiality form to be mailed to them for signature," explained FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Jim Roche. "Since the receipts were already in the system, a second letter was going out to the applicants before the signed confidentiality form reached our processing center to complete the claim."
Disaster officials have temporarily stopped sending these "second" letters to give the mail system a chance to catch up.
A simple toll-free call to the FEMA Helpline, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), can clear up the matter if an applicant receives a second letter about their generator or chain saw claim. The phone line is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and is the same number that individuals used to apply for assistance. There is also a special toll-free line for the speech or hearing impaired, TTY 1-800-462-7585.
"Initially, we try to meet the temporary rental assistance and emergency essential repair needs of disaster victims," ODCEM State Coordinating Officer Fred Liebe said. "We are also processing claims as quickly as possible for those individuals who purchased a generator, chain saw, non-electric heater or fire wood."
The latter claims are covered under the Individual and Family Grant (IFG) Program. Administered by the State, the program receives75 percent funding from FEMA and 25 percent from the State. To date, 231 IFG grants have been issued for a total of $129,797.