Jackson, MS -- Disaster assistance information is as near as your telephone for residents of Mississippi's nine counties declared as disaster areas by President Bush on May 23, 2003. Those who sustained storm damage but were unable to visit a fixed-site or mobile Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in their area can learn about federal and state disaster aid by calling FEMA's Helpline, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The speech or hearing impaired should call TTY 1-800-462-7585.
The toll-free Helpline can be used to get information about the various forms of federal and state disaster aid, or to track the status of an application. Essentially, the same information that was available in the FEMA/state DRCs is available through the Helpline.
"We call it the Helpline and that's the idea," said Carlos Mitchell, the federal official in charge of federal recovery operations. "For a variety of reasons, many of those affected by the May 5th through 8th severe weather could not personally visit a DRC. The Helpline provides them with the same service."
The Helpline number is available everyday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The number is the same as the FEMA application number, 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), but when calling select the Helpline option.
Leon Shaifer, the state coordinating officer for the recovery operation, said, "Our objective is to provide a means for everyone to be able to contact us for disaster assistance. We recognize that there are some who were not able to visit one of our centers, and we want them to have the same access to information."
The nine Mississippi counties in which residents may be eligible for some form of federal and state disaster aid are: Calhoun, Clay, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Monroe, Pontotoc and Webster.