BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) facilitated the creation of the Disaster Recovery Interfaith Network of Western New York, a long-term unmet needs recovery coalition formed to help flood victims in Erie, Genesee, Niagara and Orleans counties with a wide range of assistance.
The Disaster Recovery Interfaith Network will receive calls for assistance through an existing information and referral service - Central Referral Services (CRS). The referral service will provide callers with phone numbers for organizations or volunteers that may be able to help them or, refer callers to caseworkers with the Disaster Recovery Interfaith Network for evaluation and case management.
Following a Presidential disaster declaration, a FEMA voluntary agency liaison works as facilitator bringing faith-based and other community organizations and government agencies throughout a disaster declared area together to address long-term, continuing unmet needs.
"Local volunteers and community organizations always do tremendous work to help their neighbors recover," said Nancy Turnbull, FEMA voluntary agency liaison. "My job is to help the local recovery efforts by coordinating with the state, regional and national voluntary organizations that may be able to provide additional aid."
Individuals who suffered losses in October's lake-effect storm and still have unmet needs are encouraged to call the Central Referral Service at 716-851-5555 from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Federal and state officials urge anyone who suffered damages or loss from the severe storms and flooding from October 12 through October 25 to apply for assistance by calling the FEMA toll-free registration number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired. Individuals also may register through the Internet at www.fema.gov. The deadline to apply for state and FEMA disaster assistance is December 23.
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.