LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Community Relations specialists from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are fanning out today (Monday, March 10) for door-to-door contacts throughout six more Kentucky counties that were added last week to the list of disaster areas following the early February storms and tornadoes, bringing to 15 the number of designated disaster counties.
People who suffered uninsured or underinsured losses in the nine initial designated counties were eligible to be considered for assistance. Last Wednesday, six new counties ? Bath, Harrison, Hopkins, Nicholas, Shelby and Spencer counties - were added to the Feb. 21 major disaster declaration. The 15 counties now identified as disaster areas are Allen, Bath, Christian, Fayette, Hardin, Harrison, Hart, Hopkins, Meade, Mercer, Monroe, Muhlenberg, Nicholas, Shelby and Spencer.
Community Relations teams have streamed into Kentucky from 12 states, the first arriving a day following the declaration. They have been meeting with officials, with storm survivors at recovery centers, senior centers, at community organizations and with all local officials to explain the recovery process and provide information. In just the first nine designated counties, teams have distributed more than 19,000 flyers and worked in the affected counties to help identify and assist disaster survivors. They have visited with more than 850 residents, 400 businesses, 70 faith-based groups, 20 community organizations, 25 social service organizations, all local officials and 20 schools.
"These highly-skilled persons are FEMA's front-line disaster workers who not only provide storm victims with valuable information, but also bring disaster response and recovery managers equally valuable information about the needs and conditions in the field," Michael Bolch, FEMA's federal coordinating officer said.
"This kind of local direct contact is the key to a successful disaster recovery," said Charlie Winter of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management Agency, who is leading the commonwealth's recovery effort.
As the 15 Community Relations specialists fan out today through the six newly-declared disaster counties, they will be offering individuals and small business owners information about available disaster assistance programs that include:
- Grants to help pay for temporary disaster housing needs;
- Grants for essential repairs needed to make a residence safe, sanitary and functional;
- Low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged property for homeowners, renters, private non-profit organizations and businesses from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); and
- Replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.
Team members will be reminding individuals that there are two easy ways to begin the application process. One of the two is to call FEMA's toll-free number, 800-621-FEMA 3362 or TTY??800-462-7585, hearing- and speech-impaired.? Both lines are active from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice, and multilingual operators are also available to answer calls. Residents with Internet access also have the option to register on FEMA's website at www.fema.gov where valuable recovery information is also available.
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.