Washington, D.C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has declared a major disaster for the District of Columbia, opening the way for the use of federal funds to help families and businesses recover from the torrential rains that swamped parts of the city last weekend.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh made the announcement during a ceremony this afternoon marking the presentation of a federal reimbursement check to Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Fire Chief Ronnie Few for costs associated with fighting a fire at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Allbaugh said the President ordered the assistance following a review of the agency's analysis of Mayor Williams' request for federal relief submitted yesterday. The declaration covers damage from severe storms, flooding and mudslides that occurred over the period of August 10-12.
Under the declaration, flood-stricken residents are eligible to apply for federal aid that can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
In addition, federal funds will be provided to the District on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Allbaugh indicated that damage surveys are continuing and additional assistance for government agencies may be designated later based on the results of the assessments. He named Thomas Davies of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Davies said affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585(TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Friday, August 17, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.