BEVERLY, Mass. – Teams of state and federal community relations specialists are making a final series of neighborhood visits in five Bay State counties to provide information about available disaster assistance programs to businesses, homeowners and renters who suffered damages and losses due to last month’s flooding.
State Coordinating Officer Cristine McCombs said local emergency management officials and community leaders in affected areas would continue to work closely with the teams to focus aid efforts on any lingering disaster-related needs.
“From the first day a disaster is declared, these teams connect with all levels of the community including local government, business, religious and volunteer organizations,” McCombs said. “We work together to identify areas of need and then we use every available means to let people know that we may be able to help.”
James N. Russo, federal coordinating officer for recovery operations, said that the community relations teams are an essential part of the disaster outreach effort.
“Despite our best efforts, some residents may have unmet needs,” Russo said. “Our community team members build on existing networks, use community forums and, in many cases, go door-to-door in hard hit neighborhoods to encourage residents to get in touch with us about their losses.”
Residents with damages should call 800-621-3362 (FEMA) to register for assistance. Those with a speech or hearing impairment can call (TTY) 800-462-7585. The lines are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday until further notice.
Residents of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcester Counties are eligible for a wide range of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state disaster recovery programs including grants to help pay for temporary housing, 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 compensated by insurance.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.