Indianapolis, IN -- Community Relations specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working with the Indiana State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and county emergency management directors to reach out to people affected by the severe storms and flooding that occurred from April 28 thru June 7. The counties declared eligible for Federal and State disaster assistance include Dubois, Gibson, Hamilton, Marion, Martin, Pike, Posey and Vigo.
Specialists are canvassing communities in these counties to offer individuals and small businesses information about the various disaster relief programs made available by a June 13 Presidential disaster declaration. Programs include grants to help pay for temporary housing needs, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses as well as low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged property.
"We rely on our Community Relations staff not only to get the word out about available assistance but also to learn first hand about the problems communities and individuals in those communities are facing," Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech explained.
Staff members are going door-to-door to talk with individuals who have suffered damage or loss. They will also meet with representatives of community-based agencies, community leaders and public officials. When Community Relations staff identify unmet needs, that information is communicated to the state or federal staff best able to respond. "Reaching out in this way lets people know that we're doing everything we can to help," Szczech added.
According to Patrick R. Ralston, State Coordinating Officer for the disaster recovery operation, "We are making every attempt to inform disaster victims about the benefits available as a result of a disaster declaration. That may require special means of communication and/or special types of assistance, all of which Community Relations staff will help to ensure."
Community Relations specialists will be reminding people that they can begin the disaster assistance process by calling 800 621-FEMA (3362) toll-free. Those who are speech or hearing impaired may call TTY 800 462-7585.
Note To Assignment Editors: Media representatives are invited to accompany Community Relations staff. Call the FEMA News Desk at 317 295-7310 to make arrangements.