COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Keeping contact information current is as important as registration in the disaster recovery process.
That is the message federal and state officials here are stressing to Missourians affected by the recent severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding. Residents need to stay in touch with the US . Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and update their contact information as it changes.
?Unfortunately, if we can't find you, we can't provide the assistance you need,? said Thomas J. Costello, FEMA's federal coordinating officer.
Following a disaster, displaced residents often move a number of times as they look for suitable housing. Sometimes in that process, they may forget to update their contact information. Being out of contact can delay receipt of FEMA assistance, thereby delaying a family's recovery.
FEMA officials prefer residents to register and update contact information by calling the toll-free number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) . For those who are speech or hearing-impaired, the TTY number is 1-800-462-7585 . Telephone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CDT, seven days a week. Affected residents may also apply online at www.fema.gov/assistance/ .
When making a call to update status information, callers should refer to their application number issued at registration. This number is displayed on all correspondence received from FEMA and is a key identifier in tracking assistance requests. Once an applicant is assigned a registration number, it's important not to register again. Registering more than once for a specific disaster will delay assistance processing.
All residents registered for assistance with FEMA also are urged to update their mailing address with the U.S. Postal Service by calling 1-800-275-8777 or visiting www.usps.gov . Change-of-address forms also are available at any post office.
Residents should keep their contact information current with the Social Security Administration and any other government agency they routinely do business with or that may impact their recovery.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.