HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Residents of The Big Island who sustained damage in the October 15 Kiholo Earthquake but who have not registered for assistance are encouraged to act now.
Register by logging onto www.fema.gov or by calling toll free 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time), seven days a week through Nov. 19. Starting November 20, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Closed Thanksgiving Day.
"Don't eliminate yourself by not registering," said Marilyn Shigetani, deputy federal coordinating officer, who explained that there are several reasons why some victims may not have registered yet.
I'm concerned that my personal information will be shared with other organizations.
"FEMA is very protective of the privacy of registrants, Shigetani said. "Because of the Privacy Act, we do not share personal information with anyone ."
I'm afraid that a FEMA inspector will "red tag" my house and I'll have no place to live.
"FEMA does not red tag property," Shigetani said. "Our inspectors send their findings directly to a processing center where they are used solely to determine the amount of damage and the amount of assistance you are eligible for."
"County officials determine whether or not a damaged building is safe to be occupied while it is being repaired," said Ed Teixeira, state coordinating officer. "If it is found to be unsafe, its residents may qualify for FEMA housing assistance while their home is being repaired. No one will be made homeless by the recovery process."
Here in the islands, we have a strong tradition of 'ohana. We help each other and are hesitant about asking for help outside of our circle of family and friends. In Hawaii , we are proud of our sense of community.
"FEMA understands and respects 'ohana," Shigetani said. "But when a disaster of this magnitude strikes, you may have to go outside of your family circle for assistance-and that is OK. It's your tax money, and that of your family members, that is intended for this very purpose-to help you and others in the affected community begin the recovery process," she said.
The registration helpline, 1-800-621-3362, will remain open until Dec. 22.
Those who have registered and want face-to-face contact about assistance should act now. Open through November 21 is the Waimea recovery center at the Parker Ranch Shopping Center, 67-1185 Lindsey Rd., Suite H139. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The center is staffed by federal, state and local officials and by representatives of volunteer agencies. They provide information about grants for quake-damaged homes and personal property, Small Business Administration loans for larger repairs, and other assistance.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.