Birmingham, AL -- Disaster officials want to assure Alabamians who suffered damages because of May's storms that there are sufficient funds to cover eligible losses.
"We want to encourage all affected residents and business owners in the 38 disaster-declared counties to apply for the assistance they may need," said Gracia Szczech, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the federal coordinating officer for the Alabama disaster recovery.
"Some people don't apply because they're worried about taking away from someone else who had greater losses. They also may be concerned their damages won't qualify," Szczech said. "Or perhaps they have insurance and don't realize that some expenses not covered by insurance may be eligible under disaster assistance programs."
"Call the toll-free registration number - 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) - and find out whether assistance is available to you," Szczech said. "The federal government has allocated sufficient funds for all those in the disaster-affected areas who have eligible losses. "
Disaster assistance programs may provide grants for temporary housing needs and for homeowners to make essential repairs; U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property; disaster unemployment assistance; and grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not otherwise covered.
"Don't disqualify yourself by not calling," said Perry Martin, of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and state coordinating officer. "We don't want to miss anyone affected by the severe storm who may need help. Tax dollars are set aside specifically for disaster assistance."
More than 5,000 residents in the 38 disaster-affected counties already have applied. The application process is easy, efficient and begins with a single phone call to FEMA's toll-free number,
1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Applicants with speech or hearing impairments can apply by calling the toll-free TTY number - 1-800-462-7585. Both numbers are available 8 a.m. through 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A reminder: The SBA loan application should be completed and returned as soon as possible to ensure consideration for other disaster programs.