MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin residents recovering from recent severe storms, tornadoes and flooding should not worry that registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will affect their permission to rebuild severely-damaged houses.
Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) Administrator, Johnnie Smith, said "substantial damage determinations, which can affect rebuilding, are made by local officials - not by FEMA. Registering will not be a factor when local building officials make substantial damage determinations. Failing to register for FEMA assistance will only keep those with damage from getting help they badly need."
When communities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), local governments agree to follow their floodplain ordinance in issuing building permits after a flood. Floodplain ordinances are designed to reduce damage in future floods. Participation in the NFIP also allows citizens to protect their investment through the purchase of federal flood insurance.
"Residents should be sure to consult local officials and obtain a building permit before repairing or rebuilding flood-damaged structures," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) Dolph Diemont. "Receiving FEMA disaster assistance does not remove the need to get a local permit before beginning work." As federal coordinating officer, Diemont heads up the U.S. government's side of the disaster response and recovery in Wisconsin.
Individuals and families in the 29 Wisconsin counties declared eligible for federal disaster assistance by President Bush may be eligible to receive rental payments for temporary housing; grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance; grants to replace personal property, tools used in commerce, and clothing; disaster-related medical and dental expenses and moving and storage expenses.
Workers who lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits may receive up to 26 weeks of Disaster Unemployment Assistance.
These and other benefits including low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters and business owners from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to disaster-affected Wisconsin residents who register online at www.fema.gov or by calling toll-free 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for those with hearing or speech impairment. Telephone lines are open twenty four hours a day.
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.