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Floridians Urged to Apply for Disaster Assistance by January 5 Deadline


January 4, 2006, ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tomorrow is the deadline to apply for federal and state disaster assistance in the wake of Hurricane Wilma, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Emergency Response Team (SERT).

There are two easy ways to begin the application process. Residents may call FEMA’s toll-free number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Both numbers are available 24 hours a day seven days a week until further notice. Multilingual operators are also available to answer calls. Residents with Internet access may register online at, where valuable recovery information is also available.

Applications may be updated and will continue to be processed after the Jan. 5 application deadline. Helpline representatives (at the toll-free numbers listed above) are available 24/7 to answer questions about assistance or to check the status of a caller’s application.

Individuals with insurance may be eligible for disaster assistance for under-insured losses, so they should apply before the deadline even if they have not received their insurance settlement. However, in order for individuals to receive assistance, FEMA will need the insurance settlement information to avoid any duplication of benefits.

Assistance available to disaster victims includes grants for temporary disaster housing, grants to repair disaster-damaged and uninsured homes to bring them to a safe and sanitary living condition and assistance for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) may provide eligible applicants with low-interest disaster loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property.

Thursday, Jan 5 is the final day to apply for disaster assistance for all those affected by Hurricane Wilma in the following disaster-designated counties:

* Brevard
* Broward
* Collier
* Glades
* Hendry
* Indian River
* Lee
* Martin
* Miami-Dade
* Monroe
* Okeechobee
* Palm Beach
* St. Lucie

FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003. For more information visit

SERT is a collaboration of Florida’s state agencies led by the state coordinating officer. SERT’s mission is to ensure that Florida is prepared to respond to emergencies, recover from them, and mitigate their impacts. Visit for the latest information on the hurricane relief efforts.


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