San Juan, P.R. -- Residents of the twenty -one disaster declared municipalities who have not yet registered for federal disaster aid, have only two more days to register. Wednesday, February 4, 2004, is the last day to apply for most disaster assistance programs, according to federal and Commonwealth disaster recovery officials. The registration line will close at 6:00 p.m. on that day.
"We urge those residents who have not registered to do so, as soon as possible, by calling the FEMA toll-free registration line, 1-800-621-3362 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585)," said Justo Hernández, Federal Coordinating Officer. "We want to ensure that all the disaster affected individuals have the opportunity to register for the federal disaster aid programs." The FEMA registration line is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The presidential disaster declaration included the municipalities of Aibonito, Arroyo, Cabo Rojo, Canóvanas, Fajardo, Guánica, Guayama, Juana Diaz, Lajas, Loiza, Luquillo, Maunabo, Naguabo, Naranjito, Patillas, Rio Grande, Salinas, Santa Isabel, Toa Baja, Yabucoa and Yauco.
Residents who are renters, homeowners or business owners may qualify for assistance under several federal and commonwealth programs such as disaster housing assistance, grants to meet disaster-related needs or U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans.
There are currently seven Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) set up to provide answers to questions about disaster assistance programs. The DRCs are located in the municipalities of Aibonito, Canóvanas, Guánica, Naranjito, Rio Grande, Salinas and Yabucoa, operating Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., until further notice.
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.