WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Fears that there will not be enough money to assist everyone in Berkshire and Franklin counties affected by Tropical Storm Irene during the August 27-29 period are misleading, according to officials with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"We understand that with the widespread flooding and devastation across the U.S., some may conclude there is not enough money available to assist everyone nationwide who has eligible disaster losses," said Federal Coordinating Officer James N. Russo. "We want to assure everyone, from the first to the last registrant that each applicant will receive all the assistance they are eligible to receive."
Anyone affected by the late August storm is urged to register for disaster assistance with FEMA. Funds are available to address essential losses not covered by insurance, and grants may be available to cover emergency home repairs and rental assistance. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may be available for homeowners and renters as well as business owners.
"Some people may feel that if they register, they are taking money away from someone else who, in their eyes, is less fortunate," said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Schwartz. "Assistance is provided on a case-by-case basis and funds are available to address everyone's eligible losses."
Registering takes about 20 minutes and can be done by phone, on the internet and with mobile devices. By phone, register between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Individuals with a hearing or speech disability may call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Register using the Internet by logging on to www.disasterassistance.gov or, with mobile devices, go to m.fema.gov.
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.