SAN JUAN, PR -- Commonwealth and Federal disaster relief officials in Puerto Rico announced today that the registration deadline for aid has been extended to Wednesday, February 4, 2004.
"Individuals and businesses who suffered losses from November 10-23, 2003 due to the rains, floods and landslides, may qualify for assistance," said Federal Coordinating Officer Justo Hern?ndez of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA officials said that more than 52,000 individuals already have registered for disaster assistance, and they are still receiving upwards of 700 registrations per day. "With the large number of people still registering, we felt it was important to extend the registration period. We want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to register," Hern?ndez said.
The municipalities included under the Presidential disaster declaration were Aibonito, Arroyo, Cabo Rojo, Can?vanas, Fajardo, Gu?nica, Guayama, Juana Diaz, Lajas, Loiza, Luquillo, Maunabo, Naguabo, Naranjito, Patillas, Rio Grande, Salinas, Santa Isabel, Toa Baja, Yabucoa and Yauco, and the residents can apply for federal disaster assistance.
Residents who have not registered should do so, as soon as possible, by calling the toll-free registration line at 1-800-621-3362. Hearing or speech impaired individuals can call TTY: 1-800-462-7585. Applicants can call Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
FEMA assistance could include emergency housing assistance, low interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Crisis Counseling, and, in some cases, grants to help with serious and necessary disaster-related needs unmet by insurance and other assistance programs.
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.