ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York State residents who suffered losses as a result of the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene last month and who still have serious unmet needs may find help through the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) groups now and long after the emergency phase has passed.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the New York State Office of Emergency Management (NYSOEM) are partnered with a variety of non-profit organizations to provide crucial assistance. Through a Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL), FEMA assists the VOADs with federal assistance programs, deadlines, coordination and donation management. They also identify special needs populations and help applicants avoid duplication of benefits.
"Representatives from voluntary agency groups, local when possible, get together to develop a plan and access the resources needed for their recovery," said FEMA's VAL Ken Curtin. "Their mission is to plan for emergencies and disasters such as this. The emphasis is on communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration."
Voluntary agencies can provide a wide range of assistance to Hurricane Irene's survivors. This assistance includes flood debris clean up, shelter, food, clothing, counseling, home repairs and reconstruction, and other unmet needs on a case-by-case basis. New York State storm survivors who want to know more about the work of the national and local organizations should visit www.nvoad.org/ or www.nyvoad.org/. Disaster survivors in most counties can also call 2-1-1 to request help with debris clean up or get information on other available services.
Organizations responding to the Hurricane Irene recovery effort include the American Red Cross, AmeriCorps and The Salvation Army. Clean up help is being provided by local faith-based agencies like Southern Baptist, Lutheran Disaster Services and many others. They have also been crucial to the disaster response. These agencies' efforts are not financed by the federal government; they are provided by volunteers through charitable donations.
Voluntary agencies will continue to help storm victims and to provide disaster relief services in all affected counties and any other county in need regardless of the federal declaration status.
Also, if disaster survivors suffered damages and losses because of Hurricane Irene they should remember to apply for FEMA assistance as soon as possible even if they have already registered with voluntary organizations. Registering with voluntary organizations doesn't mean that they have automatically registered with FEMA.
The only ways to apply with FEMA are:
- Call the FEMA Hotline at 1-800-621- 3362, TTY 1-800-462-7585. Multilingual assistance is available by phone. The toll-free line is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET.
- Register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or with a web-enabled mobile device or smartphone at m.fema.gov. Follow the link to "apply online for federal assistance."
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.