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FEMA Announces More Than $500,000 In Assistance Already Received In Alabama


MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- In only five days since President Bush declared six Alabama counties eligible for Individual Assistance, $507,367 in disaster assistance has been approved to help those affected by the tornadoes of March 1, state and federal officials announced today.

“This early in the recovery process our concern is for people’s housing needs,”said Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “For some, the housing assistance check is just the first check they will receive.”

Checks totaling $260,432 in disaster housing assistance have been approved since the application process began on March 3. Other Needs Assistance (ONA) funds approved has amounted to $137,735. A total of 1,076 individuals and small business owners from the disaster-designated counties have applied for disaster assistance programs as of close of business Thursday, March 8, 2007.

Eight Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are currently open in Coffee, Wilcox, Henry, Montgomery, Dale and Dallas counties to serve those recovering from the tornadoes. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., 7 days-a-week. A total of 740 individuals have visited the recovery centers since they began operation.

“Getting people into safe and sanitary living quarters so they can continue on with their lives is the first step toward recovery,”said Bruce Baughman, Alabama State Emergency Management (AEMA) State Coordinating Officer.

Disaster housing assistance comes in the form of grants for alternate rental housing, emergency repairs needed to make a residence livable, and mortgage or rental assistance in cases where the disaster has caused extreme economic hardship. This assistance serves as an interim solution to people’s housing needs until long-term solutions are addressed, typically through insurance or loans.

As of March 8, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $109,200 in disaster recovery loans for rebuilding. The SBA has received a total of 825 applications for long-term, low-interest recovery disaster loans. Of these, 714 applications are from homeowners and 111 are from business owners.

People in the six declared counties who suffered damage or loss to a home or business due to the tornadoes of March 1, 2007 are encouraged to apply for assistance by calling a toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech or hearing impairment should call TTY 1-800-462-7585 . Both phone lines are open between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (CDT) Monday thru Friday. Registration is also available online at

The Presidential disaster declaration makes federal and state funds available to individuals, families and business owners in Coffee, Wilcox, Henry, Dale, Montgomery and Dallas counties and public assistance available in Coffee, Wilcox and Henry counties. Public assistance helps public entities pay for damage to the public infrastructure. This includes repairs or replacement of roads and bridges, buildings and equipment, utilities, and parks and recreational facilities.

FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal rights. If suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.


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