West Des Moines, Ia. – Seniors and people with disabilities affected by the flooding in Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona and Pottawattamie counties may need an extra hand when applying for disaster assistance.
The stress of a disaster can cause significant challenges for anyone, but it is especially difficult for seniors and people living with disabilities. Family members, friends or neighbors can assist by helping with the registration process.
Seniors and those with disabilities affected by the floods in these counties should register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to find out about services that may be available to them.
Many resources are available to assist Iowa’s elderly and special needs populations. Other assistance is also available through a number of private, state and federal agencies.
- To register for federal and state assistance, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362);
- Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY call 1-800-462-7585;
- Or use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) to call 1-800-621-3362;
- Lines are open 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., seven days a week until Dec. 19, 2011;
- Applicants can also visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) where specialists are available to assist with applications;
- Disaster survivors may also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by Smartphone at m.fema.gov.
Here are some things to remember:
- A FEMA grant will not add to taxable income as long as the grant is given as assistance to recover from a disaster. This means that receiving disaster aid will not affect Social Security or Disability benefits.
- FEMA assistance does not impact income levels affecting an individual’s eligibility for Medicaid or food stamps.
- FEMA grants do not have to be repaid by the recipient.
- Affected seniors and those with special needs who suffered damage and losses as a result of the floods in Fremont, Mills, Pottawattamie, Harrison, and Monona counties do not have to choose between their benefits and FEMA disaster assistance.
FEMA also has trained staff, who work with elderly and special needs advocacy groups as well as with state agencies, to identify people who may require specialized outreach to connect them with appropriate agencies and services. One of the first tasks for our trained staff is to ensure that the affected individual and family have registered with FEMA.
Applicants with special needs should communicate their requirements at the time of registration. FEMA has protocols in place to assist that individual, whether the help required is for reading materials in Braille, for someone from FEMA to work with their appointed representative, or for an interpreter. Special phones for the hearing-impaired are always available at a DRC.
Special needs applicants need not worry - they will always have equal access to information, programs, and services when they register with FEMA.