NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- "Stay in touch with FEMA" is the message federal and state officials here are stressing to Tennesseans affected by the recent tornadoes. Residents need to stay in touch with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and update their contact information as it changes.
"Unfortunately, if we can't find you, we can't provide the assistance you need," said Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer. "This is especially important since the registration period has closed," she said.
Registration for assistance ended at the close of business, Monday, April 7, 2008
In the aftermath of a disaster, displaced residents often move a number of times as they look for suitable housing. Sometimes in that process, they may forget to update their contact information with FEMA. Being out of contact can delay a damage inspector's visit, or even slow down a check and delay a family's recovery.
Tennesseans can update contact information, file an appeal, or discuss costs for repairs which may have exceeded an estimate or ask other questions by calling the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585, or online at: www.fema.gov.
All residents registered for assistance with FEMA also are urged to update their mailing address with the U.S. Postal Service by calling 1-800-275-8777 or visiting www.usps.gov. Change-of-address forms also are available at any post office.
Residents should keep their contact information current with the Social Security Administration and any other government agency they routinely do business with or that may impact their recovery.
Following these guidelines can improve applicants' chances of speedy recovery by shortening the amount of time it takes for assistance to arrive.
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, an applicant must complete an SBA loan application to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
All FEMA assistance is subject to eligibility criteria and may vary from disaster to disaster. SBA eligibility criteria are applied to all applicants. Applicants who do not qualify for an SBA loan are reviewed for FEMA grant assistance in compliance with the limits established by the state.
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 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 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.