MERRILLVILLE, Ind. -- If you see a bunch of smiling folks walking around your neighborhood with blue "FEMA" shirts and hats, that's because Community Relations (CR) teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are busy reaching out to those affected by the severe storms and flooding that occurred in Lake County Aug. 15-27.
Federal and State officials are sensitive to the fact that many people impacted by the disaster this summer have paid for repairs out of their own pockets or may still be living with damages. These teams are canvassing neighborhoods and spreading the word that disaster aid is available and the sooner you register the sooner you may get assistance. ?The message is "if you act quickly enough, you might have your money before the holidays."
CR teams encourage those who have damages and losses as a result of the storms to visit a DRC and to register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Lines are open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (local time) seven days a week. Online registration is available around the clock at www.fema.gov.
CR teams provide a crucial service in disaster response and recovery. They deliver vital recovery information to storm victims and coordinate with county emergency managers and other local officials. CR teams also provide valuable information on the location of the nearest Disaster Recovery Center (DRC).
"As soon as a disaster is declared, CR teams mobilize to work directly with citizens," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Donald Keldsen, directing the federal response to Indiana recovery operations. "They cover the community door to door and visit civic groups and churches to get out the word about disaster assistance."
"CR teams are communication lifelines for valuable disaster recovery information for residents, local governments, businesses, religious organizations and volunteer agencies," said Executive Director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and State Coordinating Officer J. Eric Dietz. "At the same time, intergovernmental specialists are meeting with state and local elected officials to address their concerns."
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability or economic status. 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 you are suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the Fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.