Syracuse, NY- Community Relations (CR) teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are visiting the areas in New York State affected by the severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that began July 21 and extended through to August 13, 2003.
President Bush's major disaster declaration for Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Livingston, Montgomery, Ontario, Rensselaer, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates counties made those who sustained damages not fully covered by insurance eligible to apply for disaster assistance. Those affected should register now by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TDD) for the hearing and speech impaired. These numbers operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
CR Teams are canvassing communities in the declared areas providing information to individuals, business owners, and local officials about available disaster relief programs. They can be identified by their distinctive FEMA shirts, jackets and badges. Community Relations specialists will also contact local business organizations, churches, civic groups, government offices, public facilities, social service and voluntary organizations. When they identify unmet needs, information will be communicated to the state or federal officer best able to respond.
"We rely on our community relations staff not only to get the word out but also to find out first hand the concerns communities and individuals in those areas are facing," Federal Coordinating Officer Justo Hern?ndez explained.
Edward F. Jacoby, Jr., Director of the State Emergency Management Office and state coordinating officer for the disaster recovery operation, said, "We are making every attempt to inform disaster victims about the benefits available through a disaster declaration. Community Relations teams will help to ensure that information gets to people affected by the disaster in a timely manner."
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.