ATLANTA , Ga. --Evacuees of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who are sheltered in South Carolina have received more than $8.3 million in Individual Assistance benefits from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Individual Assistance is a program administered by FEMA directly to individual households from federally declared disaster areas.
South Carolina officials estimated more than 8,000 people were driven from their homes by the fierce Gulf storm that battered the coastal states of Alabama , Mississippi , Louisiana , and Texas and took refuge in their state. To date, more than 3,500 evacuee households in South Carolina have registered with FEMA for federal assistance.
FEMA assistance includes money for food, shelter, clothing, medical and dental care, funeral expenses and other emergency needs. In addition, FEMA provides financial or direct assistance for housing to those persons who are eligible.
To receive FEMA aid, individuals must first be registered. That can be done by going online to www.fema.gov or calling FEMA its toll-free telephone line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Due to the large volume of calls, applicants are urged to call during off-peak hours such as late evening or early morning. The registration line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Helping hands have reached out to these evacuees from a number of other federal agencies, state agencies led by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division and volunteer groups such as the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, church groups and similar volunteer agencies. Individuals in South Carolina also have given food, clothing and monetary help in this coordinated effort.
The Red Cross provides emergency shelter to any victims of a declared disaster. With these storm victims and the large number of displaced persons, the Red Cross is providing temporary housing vouchers to evacuees. To register for that aid, call 1-800-975-7585. The agency is advising callers to contact their local Red Cross if they find the national hurricane relief number continuously busy.
Federal agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are also assisting this coordinated effort between FEMA, the state and volunteer groups. HUD is providing housing assistance through local Public Housing Authorities for pre-disaster HUD assisted and homeless families. Evacuees registered with FEMA and seeking housing help from HUD should call 1-800-955-2232 and ask about the HUD Katrina Disaster Housing Assistance Program (KDHAP).