Findlay, Ohio -- Self-employed people, farm workers and others who are unemployed as a result of the November 10 tornadoes and severe storms may be eligible for federal disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) benefits, said officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA).
"The devastation of the tornadoes has disrupted people's lives and livelihoods. The DUA program is specifically designed to assist those affected by the storms who are otherwise ineligible for Ohio unemployment compensation," Ohio EMA State Coordinating Officer Dale Shipley said.
The availability of this program was triggered by President Bush's November 18 disaster declaration and extends to those living or working in any of the six counties eligible for individual assistance: Hancock, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca and Van Wert. The program is administered by the state and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"It's an option for those whose employment was interrupted by the disaster," FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Ron Sherman said. "The DUA program helps them make ends meet until they can get back to work or resume their customary employment."
Eligible persons include: self-employed agricultural and hourly workers; self-employed business people; business owners unable to provide services; and people who, as a result of the disaster no longer have a job, are unable to reach their place of employment, were to have started new employment but cannot, have become the major supporter for a household because the head of household died in the disaster; or cannot work because of injury. Individuals who have exhausted unemployment eligibility may also qualify for these benefits.
Those interested in applying for disaster unemployment assistance, should call toll-free 1-877-644-6562 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or apply in person at Ohio Department of Job and Family Services local offices. Applicants should be prepared to provide a Social Security number and driver license or state ID number and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all employers within the last 18 months.
To register for disaster assistance, those who suffered damages from the November 10 tornadoes should call the toll-free FEMA application number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired. Both lines are open 8 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except operating hours for the Thanksgiving holiday will be: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. and closed Thanksgiving.