WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Many Massachusetts residents received assistance from a number of volunteer agencies following the damages caused by Tropical Storm Irene during the period August 27 - 29.
This is not the same as receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“If you go only to volunteer agencies and fail to register with FEMA, you may be cutting yourself off from a major source of recovery funds,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Mark Landry. “Programs are in place, paid for with your own tax dollars that are there to help you in this time of need.”
FEMA, funded by Congress, administers disaster programs as determined by federal officials. Volunteer agencies raise their funds publicly and determine their own programs. Volunteer agencies provide individuals and families with immediate necessities and emergency services. FEMA programs fill in the gap between immediate needs and long term recovery.
“FEMA, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and volunteer agencies work together closely when a disaster occurs. However, their missions, programs and funding are completely different,” said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Schwartz.
Anyone affected by the late August storm is urged to register for disaster assistance through FEMA. There are grants to cover emergency home repairs, rental assistance and funds to address essential losses not covered by insurance. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may be available for homeowners and renters as well as business owners.
Registering takes about 20 minutes and can be done by phone, on the internet and mobile devices. By phone, register between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a hearing or speech disability can call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.
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.