CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Severe storm and flooding victims in the designated counties of Ashtabula, Geauga and Lake in northeastern Ohio do not need to be concerned that their applications for assistance will reduce the amounts available for their neighbors, state and federal officials announced today.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA), and local voluntary organizations are providing a wide range of programs and services for disaster victims. Residents and businesses affected by July 27 through Aug. 4 storm and flooding have until September 30, 2006 to apply for assistance.
"Don't hesitate to apply for the assistance you may need," Jesse Munoz, FEMA's federal coordinating officer, said. "The federal government has allocated sufficient funds for all those in the affected counties of Ashtabula, Geauga, and Lake who have eligible losses."
State and federal disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate residents for their entire loss. For residents that have insurance, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered under their insurance policy. 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.
"There is enough help to go around for all who are eligible," Nancy Dragani, Ohio EMA executive director and state coordinating officer, said. "The amounts distributed to one individual will in no way affect what disaster assistance is available to your neighbor or other eligible citizens of Ohio."
Residents are encouraged to apply for a wide variety of programs, such as funding for temporary disaster housing assistance; U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans for individuals and businesses 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.
"Don't prejudge your eligibility," Munoz said. "We don't want to miss anyone affected by the severe storms and floods that might need help to begin the recovery process. Tax dollars are set aside specifically for disaster assistance."
There are two easy ways to begin the application process. Call FEMA's toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech and hearing impaired. Both numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week until further notice, and multilingual operators are also available to answer calls. Residents with Internet access may also register on the agency's Web site at www.fema.gov where valuable recovery information is also available.
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 a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.