PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- Massachusetts households and businesses sought and received record levels of state-federal disaster assistance to cope with widespread spring flooding damage and losses according to the latest figures provided by officials overseeing recovery efforts.
At the July 12 registration deadline, a final tally of 37,456 applicants in the seven designated counties registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for some form of disaster assistance. More than $93 million has been approved for federal assistance since President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for Massachusetts on March 29.
Here’s a brief snapshot of Commonwealth-FEMA disaster recovery activities through close of business July 13, 2010:
- $55.2 million in approved Housing Assistance grants to help with recovery housing expenses, home repair costs and assistance toward repairing storm-damaged homes;
- $1.9 million in Other Needs Assistance to cover other essential disaster-related needs, such as medical expenses and lost personal possessions; and
- $35.9 million in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved low-interest loans to eligible homeowners, renters or business owners.
In addition, the federal share of reimbursement funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program has currently obligated $1.5 million to reimburse eligible public sector entities for debris removal and emergency protective measures. Under the program’s cost-share formula (75 percent FEMA, 25 percent Commonwealth), eligible public sector applicants are helped with supplemental costs related to debris removal, emergency protective measures and repair, reconstruction or replacement of public facilities not met by insurance.
Throughout the nearly four months of recovery efforts, Commonwealth-FEMA disaster specialists initiated major outreach efforts to inform eligible residents in Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties about available assistance and ways to reduce vulnerability to future disasters.
Ongoing and completed outreach initiatives include:
- To date, more than 99,000 people have visited FEMA information kiosks at home improvement centers and special events to talk with risk-reduction specialists about cost-effective measures to lessen vulnerability to future disasters.
- A dozen Disaster Recovery Centers were set up at various times and locales in the seven designated counties. More than 4,690 area residents visited the centers to talk face-to-face about specific issues or to learn more about possible aid;
- For more than two months, several dozen Community Relations specialists went door-to-door in hundreds of affected neighborhoods to talk with individuals about unmet needs and provide registration and assistance information; and
- FEMA continues to work with Bay State volunteer agencies on the development of long-term recovery groups comprised of volunteer organizations to assist disaster survivors with ongoing unmet needs in hard-hit disaster communities.
Recovery officials remind registered applicants to keep in touch with FEMA throughout the recovery process by using the toll-free helpline option at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for people with speech or hearing disabilities. Hours are between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and multilingual assistance is available. Online disaster information links are available 24/7 on FEMA’s web sites, www.disasterassistance.gov or www.fema.gov.
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 f...