Syracuse, NY -- Federal and state disaster recovery officials urge victims of the severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that affected Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Livingston, Montgomery, Ontario, Rensselaer, Schuyler, Steuben, and Yates counties to register now for disaster assistance programs by calling the FEMA toll-free teleregistration/helpline number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY), for the hearing and speech impaired.
Justo Hernández, federal coordinating officer for the disaster recovery operation, encourages homeowners, renters and business owners in the counties who suffered damages to apply for assistance immediately by calling the toll free number, available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. "Your call to the teleregistration line is the only way to start the assistance process," explained Hernández. "An inspector will then make an appointment to visit you and to inspect your damages."
"Most of the properties in the declared counties suffered damages from flooding and wind," said Edward F. Jacoby, Jr., Director of the State Emergency Management Office and state coordinating officer. "Now is the time to call FEMA's toll-free number. Have your social security number, address of the damaged property, directions to the damaged property and telephone numbers where you can be reached at hand when you make the call."
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration will also be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
At the request of Governor George E. Pataki, President Bush signed a major disaster declaration on August 29, 2003 to provide assistance to the counties affected during the severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that hit the State between July 21, 2003 and August 13, 2003.
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 Citizens Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.