ESSINGTON, Pa. -- Following severe storms and flooding that began on Aug. 1, some residents and business owners may wonder who is eligible to apply for federal disaster recovery assistance. The answer is simple, according to recovery officials - anyone living or working in a disaster-designated county who suffered damage or loss from the storms may apply.
"We don't want anyone to count him or herself out of needed help," said State Coordinating Officer David Sanko. "These recovery programs are here to provide a helping hand to disaster victims, and we want people to reach out to us even if they have the slightest doubt about their eligibility."
Any disaster-affected individual living or working in Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia County is eligible to apply for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Lines are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week at the FEMA toll-free registration line: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Hearing or speech impaired individuals may call TTY at 1-800-462-7585.
"We'd rather people didn't decide for themselves there's nothing out there for them," said Federal Coordinating Officer Tom Davies. "The people who take applications over the phone are trained to help callers determine what they may be eligible to receive. So, we want people to hear us when we say, 'Just call us. Know your options.'"
Additionally, a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is open in Upper Darby at 6904 Market Street. All disaster applicants may visit the center to check on the status of their applications and to learn about safe rebuilding methods from mitigation specialists. Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration are on-hand to help homeowners, renters and business owners complete low-interest disaster loan applications. The Internal Revenue Service is also available to help people document their losses and to answer tax-related questions. A childcare service is provided at the DRC for families with children who have stopped by the center to conduct disaster-related business.
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.