OTTAWA, Ill. - A toll-free application telephone number is now operational for those who suffered property damage or loss in the declared counties affected by the tornadoes of April 20, 2004.
Lee Champagne, federal coordinating officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and William C. Burke, state coordinating officer, Illinois Emergency Management, said those affected by the disaster may apply for assistance immediately by calling this toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), between 8 am to 6 pm 7 days a week until further notice. Those with speech or hearing impairment may call TTY 1-800-462-7585.
In response to a request from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich on April 22, President Bush signed a major disaster declaration April 23. The declaration designated the counties of Kankakee, LaSalle, Will and Putnam eligible for federal aid to help meet the recovery needs of stricken residents and business owners.
The declaration makes residents of these counties 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.
"Your phone call is your application for both state and federal assistance available under the disaster declaration. Telephone application has proven to be the simplest, quickest, most efficient and confidential way to apply," Lee Champagne said.
When calling to apply have the following information available:
- Your current phone number;
- Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying;
- Your Social Security number, if available;
- A general list of damages and losses you suffered;
- If insured, the name of your company or agent and your policy number;
- General financial information; and
- Bank account coding if you wish to speed up your assistance with direct deposit
Don't prejudge your eligibility, even if you don't have all the information necessary or it was lost in the tornado. It's important that all residents get the assistance available to them as quickly as possible," William Burke said. "Even if you have already registered with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army or another voluntary agency or have reported damage to county or local officials, you can apply for the federal and state assistance programs only by calling FEMA's toll-free number."
FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate you for your entire loss. If you have insurance, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered under your insurance policy. Residents should contact their insurance agent. Some disaster aid does not have to be paid back, while other forms of help may come in the form of loans. The FEMA representative will explain the details to you when you call.