PASADENA, Calif. -- Applicants who have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for state and federal assistance resulting from the Southern California wildfires or the San Bernardino Mudflows, floods and debris flows and have questions about the status of their applications can call the toll-free FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Beginning April 5, the new hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The TTY number for speech- and hearing-impaired individuals is 1-800-462-7585. The registration period ended Jan. 9, 2004 for those affected by the Southern California wildfires and March 15, 2004 was the last day for victims of the San Bernardino mudflows, floods and debris flows to register for assistance.
“It takes many months for people to recover from such devastating fires,” said William Carwile, III, federal coordinating officer. “We want people to know that we are still here and available to assist in their recovery efforts.”
FEMA and state disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate for an individual’s entire loss. For applicants and business owners who have insurance, federal and state programs may help pay for basic needs not covered by an insurance policy.
People who made a mistake when reporting damage or may have misrepresented their losses have the opportunity to correct or cancel their claim. Individuals may call the Helpline to withdraw or correct an application and prevent prosecution. Anyone who knows of someone who has filed false damage claims or perpetrated any other disaster-related fraud may report the incident to the Fraud Hotline at 1-800-323-8603.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services coordinates overall state agency response to major disasters in support of local government. The office is responsible for ensuring California’s readiness to respond to and recover from natural, manmade and war-caused emergencies and for assisting local governments in their emergency preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery efforts.
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.