NEPTUNE, N.J. -- The modern communication age provides many high-tech ways to share information, including television, radio, newspapers, Internet, mobile applications, wireless networks and cell phones. But perhaps the most effective way to "get the word out" is still the original one: through personal contact.
Flood waters in some areas are only now starting to recede. Many residents in those areas may have missed recovery specialists' initial door-to-door outreach. That's why the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) officials are asking the public to help them spread a very important message to their neighbors and fellow flood survivors: "Register for Disaster Assistance Today!"
"Even if you have already registered for disaster assistance with FEMA, you may know someone, a family member or a neighbor who has not applied for help. Please take a few moments to call or knock on your neighbors' doors to see if they have applied with FEMA," said Federal Coordinating Officer William L. Vogel
"Disasters tend to bring out the best in people, so we're confident the public will help speed the recovery by talking to their neighbors and letting them know that they may be eligible to receive federal help," said State Coordinating Officer Lt. Paul Miller of NJOEM.
Hurricane Irene affected many New Jersey neighborhoods. A presidential declaration on Aug. 31 opened the door for federal funds to provide recovery assistance to homeowners, renters and business owners.
FEMA Housing Assistance grants may cover rental assistance, home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance. The objective is to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. Other Needs Assistance grants may be available to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable-aid programs.
The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations for losses not fully covered by insurance. SBA may lend up to $200,000 to repair or replace homes and up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Also, businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million for physical losses and working capital needs.
THE FIRST STEP: REGISTER FOR ASSISTANCE
There are three ways to register - go to www.disasterassistance.gov, to m.fema.gov or call FEMA toll-free, 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Those with access or functional needs and who use a TTY may call 800-462-7585 or use 711 or Video Relay Service to call 800-621-3362. Telephone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET; multilingual operators are available.
Hurricane Irene survivors can also receive assistance at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) operating in all federally declared counties. Residents can get the location of the DRC closest to their home or business by going to: asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm.
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.