El Paso, Texas -- A toll-free application telephone number and on-line registration are now operational for those residents in El Paso County who suffered property damage or loses from severe storms and flooding beginning July 31.
State and Federal officials encourage those affected by the disaster to apply for assistance immediately by going online to www.fema.gov or calling this toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Those with speech or hearing impairment may call TTY 1-800-462-7585 .
"Your phone call or online registration is your application for both state and federal assistance available under the disaster declaration, " said Kenneth Clark, federal coordinating officer for the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Frank Cantu, state coordinating officer, Governor's Division of Emergency Management, added, "Registration is the most important first step an individual can take to receiving assistance."
In response to a request from Governor Rick Perry, President Bush signed a major disaster declaration designating El Paso County eligible for federal aid to help meet the recovery needs of stricken residents and business owners.
The declaration makes residents of El Paso County eligible for a wide range of programs such as funding for temporary disaster housing assistance, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans for individuals and business owners to repair or replace damaged property, replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs, and disaster unemployment assistance.
When applying for help, have the following information available:
- Your current phone number;
- Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying;
- Your Social Security number, if available;
- A general list of damages and losses you suffered;
- If insured, the name of your company or agent and your policy number;
- General financial information;
- Bank account coding if you wish to speed up your assistance with direct deposit.
"Don't prejudge your eligibility, even if you don't have all the information necessary or it was lost in the flooding," Clark said. "It's important that all residents get the assistance available to them as quickly as possible."
FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate you for your entire loss. If you have insurance, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered under your insurance policy. Residents should contact their insurance agent first, then if they have unmet needs they should call FEMA to apply. Some disaster aid does not have to be paid back, while other forms of help may come in the form of loans. The FEMA representative will explain the details to you when you call.
In addition, the Presidential disaster declaration provides federal funding for affected local governments to help repair or replace damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges and public buildings. Funds have also been made available for projects that can reduce future disaster risk.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.