|By JANE HOUIN
COLUMBUS, Ohio — President George W. Bush has declared three counties in northeast Ohio federal disaster areas.
Ashtabula, Geauga and Lake County residents and businesses that suffered damage and losses from flooding which began July 27 are now eligible to apply for federal assistance.
The area was struck by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding.
“I appreciate the President’s quick response to Ohio’s request for federal assistance,” said Ohio Gov. Bob Taft. “This new aid will supplement state and local recovery efforts, helping those who have suffered as a result of last week’s flooding get their lives back to normal.”
Bush visited the Lake County emergency Operations Center in Mentor, Ohio, last Wednesday afternoon to receive an update from Taft, U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and local officials on response and recovery efforts.
“The local response was really good,” said Bush. “The interoperability between the various jurisdictions was superb. And as a result, a lot of people’s lives were saved.”
Residents and businesses located in the three-county area must first call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) toll-free number (800-621-3362) to register for assistance. FEMA is also taking electronic registrations at www.fema.gov
“The first wave of help from their federal government as a result of these disasters is now available for people whose lives were affected by the flooding,” Bush said.
“There are still assessments going on for further federal help and federal assistance, and when those assessments are made, the proper help will be granted.”
Jesses Munoz, federal coordinating officer with FEMA, and Nancy Dragani, state coordinating officer and executive director of Ohio Emergency management Agency said those affected by the disaster may apply for assistance immediately, using the toll-free number from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
In addition, those with speech or hearing impairment may call TTY 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are also available.
“Your phone call is your application for both state and federal assistance under the disaster declaration,” Munoz said.
“Telephone application has proven to be the simplest, quickest, most efficient and confidential way to apply.”
When calling to apply, or registering online, applicants must have the following information available: legal name (not a nickname or abbreviation), current phone number, address both at the time of disaster and current residence, social security number, general list of damages and losses suffered, name of insurance company or agency and policy number if insured, general financial information and bank account coding if desired to speed up assistance with direct deposit.
Available assistance may include cash grants, low-interest loans to renters, homeowners and businesses and grants to cover expenses not met by insurance. Other programs residents and businesses may be eligible for include funding for temporary disaster housing assistance, U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans for individuals and business owners to repair or replace damaged property, and disaster unemployment assistance.
FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate you for your entire loss.
If you have insurance, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered under your insurance policy. Residents should contact their insurance agent then call FEMA to apply for assistance. Some disaster aid does not have to be paid back, while other forms of help may come as loans.
Residents and business owners who previously registered with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and any other volunteer agency or who have reported damage to county or local officials do need to apply for the federal and state assistance programs by calling FEMA’s toll-free number or going online.
This farm news was published in the August 9, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.