OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Oklahomans in seven counties can now apply for assistance from the state of Oklahoma and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help them recover from the May 10-13 storms and tornadoes.
Individual Assistance is available to eligible residents in Carter, Cleveland, McIntosh, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties.
Anyone whose property sustained damages in any of the designated counties may complete an online application at www.disasterassistance.gov or apply by phone by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for the hearing or speech impaired. Specialists are standing by at the toll-free numbers seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (CDT) until further notice. Help in other languages is available.
Here in Oklahoma, Individual Assistance specialists are working side by side with their state counterparts to assist residents in their recovery efforts. They urge residents to be practical, proactive and realistic during their recovery from the recent storms and tornadoes.
To aid in recovery, FEMA and Oklahoma officials offer these tips and strategies for individuals facing new post-disaster realities:
- Don't wait. Applicants should contact their insurance agents as soon as possible;
- Register with FEMA even if insured. Once enrolled, the applicant retains the option of possible state-federal help, especially if underinsured;
- There is no magic wand to make things right. Government disaster assistance covers basic needs only. It normally will not compensate individuals for their entire loss;
- A low-cost disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a major source of recovery funding. Disaster loan applications from the SBA must be completed and returned. No one will be forced to accept a loan he or she does not want, but the information on the application is needed to determine eligibility for other federal assistance;
- The recovery process is designed to be responsive to individual and household needs. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and FEMA are placing Disaster Recovery Centers in hard-hit communities so recovery specialists can talk directly with storm survivors to answer questions and provide disaster information. It helps to register with FEMA before visiting a Disaster Recovery Center and to bring relevant paperwork whenever possible;
- Funds received by applicants may be used ONLY for designated disaster-related expenses. This is strictly enforced. Specific information regarding how that money may be used, or cannot be used, is provided when the money is disbursed to applicants;
- Stay in touch with FEMA throughout the recovery process. Make sure FEMA has current contact information, including a phone number and address. Applicants can also check the status of their applications at www.disasterassistance.gov; and
- Disaster recovery takes time. Disasters are major disruptive events, and it helps to have realistic expectations of what can be done and how long it takes.
For more information on Oklahoma disaster recoveries, click www.fema.gov/oklahoma or