CLINTON, Miss. -- In an effort to help people recover from the April 15-28 tornadoes and storms that struck Mississippi, community relations specialists from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are contacting survivors throughout the disaster area to provide valuable information.
People who sustained uninsured or underinsured losses in the 29 designated counties with disaster designations may be eligible for federal-state assistance. The counties designated major disaster areas for Individual Assistances are: Alcorn, Attala, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, DeSoto, Greene, Grenada, Hinds, Holmes, Jasper, Kemper, Lafayette, Leflore, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Panola, Quitman, Smith, Sunflower, Tishomingo, Tunica, Webster and Winston.
The specialists, wearing familiar blue MEMA and FEMA shirts, meet with storm survivors and local officials at recovery and senior centers, community organizations, and churches to explain the recovery process and provide information. Teams have distributed thousands of information flyers, visited scores of homes and businesses, and worked in the affected counties to help identify and assist disaster survivors.
Survivors and business owners may qualify for a variety of assistance programs including:
- Grants to help pay for temporary disaster housing needs.
- Grants for essential repairs needed to make a residence safe, sanitary and functional.
- Low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged property for homeowners, renters, private non-profit organizations and businesses from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- Crisis counseling services provided at no cost to survivors.
- Unemployment benefits for workers and self-employed individuals who are out of work as a result of the declared major disaster. Even spouses who have lost the sole breadwinner in their family may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
- Legal advice provided at no cost to survivors of the declared disaster.
- Other Needs Assistance grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.
Unemployed people can apply for assistance 24-hours-a-day through the Mississippi Department of Employment Security website – mdes.ms.gov – or by calling 888-844-3577 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday thru Friday.
Community relations team members remind people it is necessary to apply to FEMA for assistance to be considered eligible for help. There are two easy ways to begin the application process. One is to call FEMA's toll-free number – 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585, for the hearing- and speech-impaired. Both lines are active from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., seven days a week until further notice. Multilingual operators also are available to answer calls. Residents with Internet access also have the option to register on FEMA's website at www.fema.gov where valuable recovery information also is available.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders 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.