RICHMOND, Va. -- A toll-free application telephone number is operational for those who suffered property damage or loss from the November 18-19 flooding in Bland, Buchanan, Giles, Smyth and Tazewell counties and the city of Galax in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Lou Botta, federal coordinating officer with the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Michael Cline, state coordinating officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia said those affected by the disaster may apply for assistance immediately by calling FEMA's toll-free registration number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585. The lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
"Your phone call is your application for both state and federal assistance available under the disaster declaration," said Cline
Even if residents have already registered with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army or another voluntary agency, or have reported damage to county or local officials, they need to apply for federal and state assistance programs by calling FEMA's toll-free number.
In response to a request from Governor Mark Warner, President Bush signed a major disaster declaration on December 9, 2003. Stricken residents and business owners in the declared counties are eligible for federal aid to help meet recovery needs.
The declaration makes residents of these jurisdictions eligible for a wide range of programs such as funding for temporary disaster housing assistance, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans for individuals and business owners to repair or replace damaged property, replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs, and disaster unemployment 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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.