Washington, DC -- The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported today that President Bush has ordered the release of federal disaster funds and emergency resources for Virginia to aid people battered by Hurricane Isabel.
Michael D. Brown, FEMA Director and Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response at Homeland Security, said the President took the action under a major disaster declaration issued this evening immediately after receiving FEMA's analysis of the state's expedited request for federal assistance. The declaration covers damage to private property from Isabel beginning on September 18.
"President Bush moved quickly in coming to the aid of the people of Virginia because he is aware of the magnitude of damage this storm is causing," Brown said. "The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have the resources in hand to meet immediate critical needs and to help families and businesses begin the recovery process."
Brown said emergency assistance triggered by the declaration can range from the use of federal personnel, equipment and lifesaving systems to the delivery of heavy-duty generators, plastic sheeting, tents, cots, food, water, medical aid and other essential supplies and materials for sustaining human life.
In addition to emergency aid, Brown said the declaration makes federal funds available for the long-term recovery of hurricane-stricken residents and business owners in the following jurisdictions: the independent cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Emporia, Franklin, Hampton, Hopewell, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg and the counties of Accomack, Charles City, Gloucester, Greensville, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northampton, Northumberland, Prince George, Richmond, Southampton, Surry, Sussex, Westmoreland and York.
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 also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Additionally, Brown said federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments in the 31 designated jurisdictions to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal and emergency services related to the hurricane, including requested emergency work undertaken by the federal government.
Brown indicated that more counties and additional forms of assistance for state and local government agencies may be designated later as conditions allow damage to be assessed throughout the stricken area. He named David Fukutomi of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Fukutomi said that affected residents and business owners in the designated counties can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Friday, September 19, from 7 a.m. to midnight seven days a week until further notice.
Because of the anticipated high volume of initial calls, Fukutomi urged owners of commercial properties and residents with only minor losses to wait a few days before calling so those whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged can be served first. He also advised that hurricane victims with insurance coverage should contact their insurance company or agent before calling to report losses and, if necessary, to request an advance or partial payment of their settlement.
On March ...