Harrisburg, PA - A special toll-free telephone number is in operation for people affected by Tropical Storms Henri and Isabel to apply for disaster assistance. The number can be used to register for a wide range of state, federal and voluntary agency disaster assistance, according to federal and state officials.
Those affected by the storms that affected Chester County from Sept. 15-23 may apply for assistance by calling the Federal Emergency Managements Agency (FEMA) toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). The hours of operation are 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, until further notice. Hearing- or speech-impaired individuals may call TTY at 1-800-462-7585.
David Sanko, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, stressed the importance of registering for assistance. Director Sanko said, "The only way to find out what disaster aid may be available is to call FEMA's toll-free number at 1-800-621-3362 without delay. This is the first step in getting disaster assistance."
"We urge homeowners, renters, and business owners to call and apply for assistance," said Tom Davies, federal coordinating officer for response and recovery efforts. "Any individual or business affected by the disaster should really take that first step in the recovery process."
President Bush designated Chester County a major disaster area on Sept. 26 following the dual storms.
Government disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate individuals for their entire loss. If an individual has insurance, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered under their insurance policy. Most disaster aid does not have to be paid back, but some help may come in the form of loans.
On March 1, 2003, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (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.