BISMARCK, N.D. -- As recovery continues for Grand Forks county residents impacted by the August severe storms and tornado, questions about state and federal disaster assistance can arise. The answers can be just a phone call away.
"People who have applied for state and federal disaster assistance and need additional information should call FEMA's Helpline to speak with a trained operator," said Greg Wilz, director of the N.D. Division of Homeland Security. "This is similar to talking with disaster specialists at a Disaster Recovery Center only more convenient because you can just call in."
The FEMA Helpline number is 1-800-621-3362 or TTY: 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing-impaired. These phone lines are available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Helpline operators are available to answer questions and provide information about the various assistance programs available to individuals and business owners, as well as to assist applicants who want to check the status of their application or provided updated information.
State and federal disaster officials note that times after a disaster can be unsettling. People often move from place to place. Telephone numbers change. Staying in contact can be difficult but essential in the case of disaster assistance.
"It is important that we know how to get in touch with you because if you can't be reached, you could find yourself out of the loop," said Federal Coordinating Officer Connee Lloyd of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Helping people throughout the entire recovery process continues to be a FEMA priority."
Examples of information that should be updated include current addresses and telephone numbers, disaster officials say. If an address is wrong or out-of-date, checks or important documents may not be received. FEMA also may need to contact applicants by phone with important information that can affect their case for FEMA assistance.
Disaster officials remind those affected by the August 26 and 27 storms and tornado they have until November 13 to register for assistance. The toll-free number is 1-800-621-3362; TTY: 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing- or speech-impaired. Both numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. An application also can be filed online, 24 hours a day, at www.fema.gov/assistance/.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.