BEVERLY, Mass. -- Bay State residents coping with low insurance settlements and late-arriving bills for flood damages and losses caused by April flooding have only 30 more days to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for possible state and federal disaster assistance.
May 21 marks the halfway point in the 60-day registration period. Registrations cannot be accepted after the June 21 deadline.
Recovery officials urge residents and business owners with flood-related damage in the five-county declared disaster area to call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The number for those with speech or hearing impairment is 1-800-462-7585. Lines are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until further notice.
"Registration keeps open the possibility of a wide range of assistance," said James N. Russo, the FEMA official in charge of federal recovery operations. "If your insurance coverage comes up short, or mold or foundation damage appears later, you need to be registered for us to help."
State Coordinating Officer Cristine McCombs said receiving assistance would not affect homeowner's insurance premiums, because disaster aid covers only uninsured losses. "There's no need to delay because you're waiting for an insurance settlement or any other reason," McCombs said. She explained that registration did not obligate anyone to accept aid if, for any reason, they decided against it.
The registration period and the deadline apply to the disaster declaration signed by President Bush on April 22 that enabled residents and business owners in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcester Counties to register for federal/state recovery aid.
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 Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.