COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is using technology to make it easier to apply for disaster assistance. In addition to registering by phone, residents of federal disaster areas may now apply online for assistance as well as find valuable recovery information at www.fema.gov.
“The ability to apply online furthers our capacity to get disaster assistance to those who need help,” said Michael Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response and Director of FEMA. “Individuals and families affected by disasters can apply online by logging on to their internet provider, visiting a local library that provides Internet access, or reaching out to family members with access to help them complete the application.”
Individuals should be prepared to give their contact information and social security number, as well as provide insurance and financial information when they log on or call to register for assistance. Those who encounter difficulties while registering online can call the FEMA Technical Helpdesk toll-free 1-800-745-0243, 24 hours a day. This number is for technical questions only; applicants with questions about FEMA assistance, or with changes to the information submitted, can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to reach the agency’s disaster assistance helpline.
Online registration is the latest step FEMA has taken in response to the devastating 2004 Hurricane season. Thousands of personnel have been deployed to 13 states and Puerto Rico to support response and recovery efforts, and the agency has also opened additional call centers to support its telephone registration process. FEMA took more calls for disaster assistance in September than any previous month in history. In less than two months, more than 1 million assistance applications have been taken, and FEMA has provided more than $1 billion in assistance.
Individuals without Internet access can begin the disaster application process by calling the toll-free registration number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week until further notice. If possible, try calling in the evening after 6:00 p.m. or on weekends when call volume often is lighter.
The Ohio EMA coordinates State assistance and resources during an emergency and prepares the state for all hazards through planning, training, exercises and funding activities at the state and local level. This includes providing assistance to individuals and administering state and federal assistance to individuals and governmental entities recovering from disaster-related damage and costs. Ohio EMA coordinates homeland security funding, weapons of mass destruction training, anti-terrorism planning and training, and assists local and state agencies determine homeland security strategy and priorities.
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.