TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Disaster assistance is as close as your telephone or computer, but federal-state assistance programs cannot begin for Floridians who survived the storms and flooding that began March 26 until they file a request with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"I want to clear up any confusion about the application process," said Doug Wright, deputy state coordinator for the disaster.
- "First, it's a one-step, one-call process that can be completed from the privacy of your home. You do not have to visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) to complete the application process."
- "Second, registering with the American Red Cross or other disaster assistance organizations will not provide entrance into the state-federal recovery process."
There are three easy ways to apply for FEMA assistance. You may call FEMA's toll-free number at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with a speech- or hearing-impairment. Telephone lines are open from 7 am to 10 p.m. local time seven days a week. Multilingual operators are also available to answer your call. Residents with Internet access now have the option to register and check on the current status of their application on the agency's new Web site at www.disasterassistance.gov. Applicants may also visit a DRC.
Counties in which applicants may be eligible for assistance include: Calhoun, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Walton and Washington counties.
"With one call, individuals can apply for a wide range of disaster assistance," said Federal Coordinating Officer Jeff Bryant. Bryant urges those who suffered uninsured or underinsured losses related to the storms and flooding to call the FEMA toll-free application number as soon as possible.
Both FEMA and the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offer resources for storm survivors. For example, the SBA offers low-interest disaster loans for individuals and business owners. Temporary housing and home repair grants, as well as Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) are available from FEMA.
Storm survivors may also visit one of several DRCs currently operating in the declared areas. For example storm survivors can have a face-to-face discussion about their FEMA application and other types of disaster assistance with representatives of local, state, federal and voluntary agencies including the SBA.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance is Available:
DUA provides financial support to citizens in 14 counties whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by these storms. Storm victims who are not eligible for Florida's regular unemployment compensation program may be eligible for DUA. This program also qualifies some self-employed individuals for unemployment assistance. Individuals have the option of applying online at www.floridajobs.org or www.fluidnow.com or by calling 800-202-2418, weekdays from 7:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
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.