Ladysmith, WI -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now providing crisis counseling and legal services as part of the assistance made available by the major disaster declaration signed by President Bush on September 10, 2002.
Rusk County victims of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that occurred between Labor Day and September 6 may now be eligible to receive immediate short-term crisis counseling. A federal grant of $87,948 has been awarded to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services for administration and implementation of this service through November 12, 2002.
"Losing a home, business, or personal property to disaster takes a financial toll on victims. But the emotional effects of a disaster can be equally devastating," said Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer. "Victims' emotional needs must be addressed, and this grant will help us to do that." Crisis counseling can help people recognize the stress reactions and emotions caused or aggravated by a disaster and regain control over themselves and their environment.
The State has contracted with Rusk County to provide outreach workers who will be visiting county residents and business owners to provide information about the counseling services now available. Anyone interested may also call the Rusk County Health Department at 1-715-532-2177 to learn more about the services available.
Federal officials have also announced a Disaster Legal Services grant of $5,000 for provision of free legal services to low-income individuals in any of the 19 disaster-declared counties who, prior to or because of the disaster, are unable to secure legal services adequate to meet their needs as a consequence of the disaster.
The federal grant will allow the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association to assist with the preparation of insurance claims, repair and construction contracts or legal documents lost in the disaster or required as a result of the disaster and to offer advice in dealing with landlords, issues of guardianship and related legal problems. Those who require such services may call 1-800-310-7029.
Individuals who suffered loss or damage from the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that occurred between September 2 and September 6 can register for disaster assistance by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The number for the speech- and hearing-impaired is TTY 1-800-462-7585. FEMA operators will make referrals for crisis counseling and/or legal services as necessary. Phone line will be in operation from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday until further notice.