TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- People who suffered losses related to the storms, tornadoes and flooding in Dixie and Gilchrist counties are now able to apply for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This brings to 14 the number of Florida counties where federal-state disaster help has been offered to storm survivors.
The 14 Individual Assistance counties are: Calhoun, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Walton and Washington.
In order to receive federal-state assistance, people must first register for help by calling FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech or hearing impairment may call TTY 800-462-7585 and apply. Multilingual operators are available. Registering with the Red Cross or other disaster agencies will not start the federal application process. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to10 p.m local time seven days a week. Application for disaster assistance can also be made by registering on FEMA's new Web site, www.disasterassistance.gov, or at any of the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC). The DRCs are open from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.daily until further notice. Local county emergency manager officials can tell applicants where the nearest DRC is located.
For quicker service, officials encourage people to register first before visiting a center. Visiting a DRC is not required, but people wishing to do so may go to any center for registration or application help. At a DRC, registered applicants can ask FEMA disaster recovery specialists to answer questions about their application, or provide information FEMA needs to process their application. Recovery specialists can also supply contacts for other programs that may be able to help.
Before applicants call or go online, they should gather the following basic information to speed the process:
- Social Security number;
- Telephone number where he or she can be reached;
- Address of the damaged property;
- Current mailing address;
- Brief description of disaster-related damages and losses;
- Insurance information; and
- Bank account address information.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) representatives will also be on hand at the DRCs to meet with individuals and business owners to answer any questions about SBA's disaster loan program, help them complete their SBA disaster loan application and accept the completed disaster loan applications. Anyone not able to go to a DRC should call the SBA Customer Service Center from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT, Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT Saturday toll-free at 800-659-2955 for information and assistance or visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov any time. Survivors may also apply for disaster loans from SBA's secure website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.