JACKSON, Tenn. ? State and federal officials are urging Tennesseans who suffered losses in the recent tornadoes and storms in the designated counties to register with FEMA for disaster assistance. But what happens after a person is in the system? Where can they turn for answers to their questions or to check on their applications?
The answer is the help line. When applicants register with FEMA, they are given a "tracking number" which identifies them in the system. They can reach the help line by dialing 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) ? the same number they called to register. Then they enter their tracking number, which routes their call to a help line operator who can call up their file and answer their questions.
Applicants may use the help line to find out when the inspector will come, check the status of their assistance applications, change their applications to include additional damage, inquire about additional assistance or review their right to appeal FEMA decisions on eligibility or compensation.
"It's especially important that people let us know where they are and how we can reach them," said Michael Bolch, the official in charge of federal disaster recovery programs in Tennessee . "If we lose touch with applicants, their assistance could be stalled until we find them again."
Perhaps most importantly, the help line is staffed by real people ? not answering machines and recordings. It is open the same hours that as the registration line ? 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. There is also a TTY number for the speech and hearing impaired: 1-800-462-7585.
Under the federal disaster declaration, homeowners, renters and businesses in Benton, Cannon, Carroll, Cheatham, Cumberland , Davidson, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Haywood, Maury, Sumner, Warren and Weakley counties are eligible to apply for disaster assistance.