Nashville, TN -- Disaster assistance information is a phone call away for residents of Fayette and Shelby counties, following President Bush's disaster declaration on July 29, 2003.
Those who sustained damage during the July 21st -22nd severe storms, high winds and heavy rain, and who are unable to visit one of the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC), 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 DRCs is available through the Helpline.
"We call it the Helpline and that's the idea," said Charles M. Butler, the federal official in charge of recovery operations. "For a variety of reasons, many of those affected by the July 21st - 22nd severe weather could not personally visit a DRC. The Helpline provides them with many of the same services."
The Helpline is available every day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., local time. The number is the same as the FEMA application number but when calling select the Helpline option.
James H. Bassham, Tennessee coordinating officer for disaster recovery, 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 are not able to visit one of our centers, and we want them to have access to the same information."
President Bush's disaster declaration opened the way for residents of Fayette and Shelby counties to apply for individual disaster assistance.
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.