Springfield, IL -- Community Relations specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and county emergency management directors to reach out to people affected by the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that occurred May 6 through May 11. Eligible counties include Adams, Alexander, Brown, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Mason, Massac, McDonough, Pike, Pope, Pulaski, Schuyler, Tazewell and Woodford.
Teams are canvassing communities in the declared areas offering individuals and small business owners information about available disaster assistance programs, including grants to help pay for temporary disaster housing needs; grants for essential repairs needed to make a residence safe, secure and sanitary; low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged property; and replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.
"We rely on our community relations staff not only to get the word out, but also to find out first hand the problems that communities and individuals in those communities are facing," Ron Sherman, FEMA's federal coordinating officer, said.
Team members are going door-to-door to talk with individuals who have suffered damage or loss. They also will meet with representatives of community-based agencies, community leaders and public officials. When Community Relations staff identify unmet needs, information will be 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," Sherman said.
Team members will be reminding individuals that they can begin the disaster assistance process by calling FEMA's toll-free number at 1 800 621-FEMA (3362). For those who are speech or hearing impaired, the TTY number to call is 1 800 462-7585. Both numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.