ORLANDO, Fla. -- Teams of state and federal community-relations disaster specialists are making a coordinated effort to contact individuals who received Red Cross housing assistance vouchers after the Dec. 25, 2006 tornado and local flooding in Volusia County . The Feb. 8, 2007 presidential disaster declaration extended housing and other needs assistance to victims recovering from that storm.
The American Red Cross and the United States Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working hand-in-hand to make sure all individuals and households that suffered loss or damage in the Christmas or early February tornadoes have registered with FEMA.
"Some people think if they registered with the Red Cross, they automatically registered with FEMA," explained Federal Coordinating Officer Jesse Munoz. "That is simply not the case. FEMA and the Red Cross are separate organizations, with separate programs, and we each treat the information people give us as confidential."
All homeowners, renters and business owners with tornado-related damage or loss for either the Christmas 2006 or February tornadoes should call 1- 800-621-3362 (FEMA) to register for possible assistance. Those with a speech or hearing impairment can call (TTY) 1- 800-462-7585 . Residents with insurance are also encouraged to register in order to preserve the right to seek FEMA assistance if any settlement with their insurer fails to cover all losses.
Residents of Lake, Sumter , Seminole and Volusia Counties are eligible for a wide range of state-FEMA disaster recovery programs including grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may be available to cover residential and business losses not compensated by insurance.
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.
FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal rights. If suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603.