ANDOVER, Mass. -- The last Disaster Recovery Center has closed its doors but Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recovery specialists are still available to help Bay State disaster survivors.
To meet the ongoing need for one-to-one recovery advice and help, the toll-free FEMA registration number provides a helpline option for registered applicants to speak directly to recovery specialists about any disaster-related question or concern.
Disaster applicants can receive or give information about the status of their recovery by selecting the helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for people with speech or hearing disabilities. Both lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, until further notice. Multilingual specialists are available at the helpline.
When using the free service, applicants should have their unique application identification number available so the correct file can be located quickly and securely. This number is given at the completion of the application process.
Help is also available as FEMA specialists continue to be on-site at local home improvement stores on a rotating schedule until further notice. At these locations, mitigation specialists advise residents about risk-reduction projects, answer “how-to” questions as well as provide information on flood insurance. Recovery officials urge property owners to take charge of their own recovery by exploring mitigation options and by talking with their local insurance agent about flood insurance.
It’s also worth noting that registering with FEMA may result in a referral to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for a low-interest disaster loan. SBA provides these loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.
Individuals may call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (or 800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT for more information or a disaster loan application.
Business loan applications can also be downloaded from the SBA website at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Completed applications should be returned to the Center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
Lastly, Long-Term Recovery Committees continue to work year-round in hard-hit communities to fill needs that cannot be met by government programs. These committees are made up of volunteers from numerous local non-profit and religious affiliation groups who provide services to their neighbors on a case-by-case basis. They can be reached by dialing 2-1-1 in Massachusetts.
No matter what option one chooses to stay in touch, officials stress that recovery is a long-term process both for individuals and for communities. Rebuilding stronger, safer and smarter will help lessen risks and make recovery a positive experience.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders and to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.