Kokomo, IN -- People who call the FEMA toll-free application line at 1-800-621-FEMA (TTY 1-800-462-7585) to apply for disaster assistance can feel confident that the information they provide is used only to provide disaster recovery assistance, according to the head of disaster recovery operations in Indiana for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"An application with FEMA for disaster assistance is confidential," Thomas J. Costello, FEMA federal coordinating officer, said. "We don't want privacy concerns to prevent people from getting the assistance they are eligible to receive."
Information gathered in the telephone interview when the applicant calls the FEMA toll-free number is used only to determine what type of assistance is most appropriate and is kept confidential. This is a requirement of the Privacy Act of 1974. An applicant may sign a release form to permit FEMA to disclose his or her application information to other agencies that may provide assistance.
Patrick R. Ralston, state coordinating officer, Indiana State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), urged Hoosiers who suffered damages from the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding to call and apply. "That one phone call is your application for a number of disaster programs that are in place to help the people of Indiana recover from this terrible disaster."
Individuals, families, and business owners who suffered losses in the designated counties should apply for disaster assistance such as grants for temporary housing and essential repairs to make the home safe and secure, or low-interest disaster loans by calling FEMA's toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The TTY number for those with speech or hearing impairment is 1-800-462-7585. These numbers are available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. The deadline to apply for disaster assistance is September 9.
The disaster-declared counties for Individual Assistance are Adams, Allen, Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Delaware, Fountain, Fulton, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry, Howard, Huntington, Jasper, Jay, Kosciusko, Madison, Marion, Miami, Montgomery, Morgan, Newton, Noble, Parke, Pulaski, Randolph, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vigo, Wabash, Warren, Wayne, Wells, White and Whitley.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.