Beckley, WV -- "Clean up now! Don't wait!" That was the advice given victims of the West Virginia flooding by Joe Allbaugh, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Some people have the false belief that they must wait for an inspector before they can start to get their lives back in order," he said. "They fear they may not qualify for assistance if repairs are already made. This is not true."
"In fact," said State Coordinating Officer Steve Kappa, "waiting not only is unnecessary, but can lead to serious health risks as well as more costs later."
"Nor should you wait to start cleanup until you have registered for assistance," he added. "It is important for those seeking state and federal assistance to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by telephone as soon as possible. But that should not delay starting clean up, repairs, and debris removal."
A multitude of assistance programs is available for individuals and businesses in McDowell, Mercer, Mingo and Wyoming Counties that have suffered damage as a result of the severe storms, flooding and landslides of May 2 and continuing. FEMA and West Virginia cooperate in applying the programs which were activated by the declaration of a major disaster by President George W. Bush on May 5.
Justo Hernandez, Federal Coordinating Officer for FEMA, said the important thing to do was to document the damage and repairs by receipts and before and after photographs or videos.
"Once a person or business has registered, an inspector will be assigned to make an on-site inspection," he said. "You can show the inspector your documentation for work already done."
To apply for assistance, those who have suffered damage should call FEMA's toll-free registration number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or for the hearing or speech impaired, 1-800-462-7585.