Update on our Disaster Relief Fund: Congressional Action Enables Us to Lift Funding Restrictions - October 3, 2011 by dharkanjhel

Posted by: Brad Carroll, Press Secretary

Back in August, to ensure we had the resources needed to continue to provide assistance to individual disaster survivors, as well as support our state partners in their response to future disasters, we placed some funding restrictions on longer-term repair, rebuilding and mitigation projects from previous and current disasters that are funded through our Disaster Relief Fund.

This strategy, which we call “immediate needs funding”, has been used in previous years to help preserve our Disaster Relief Fund so we can continue to meet the immediate needs of individuals and communities affected by disasters.

Today, because Congress has appropriated additional resources for our Disaster Relief Fund, we can announce that we are lifting those funding restrictions and once again providing funds for longer-term recovery projects.

This will include providing funds for projects that were placed on hold since August. We are in the process of working with our state and local partners across the country to get these projects moving again and to continue to help support their recoveries. For updates on short-term and long-term projects, visit our disaster pages.


President Declares Major Disaster for Alabama - May 31, 2011 by dharkanjhel

Posted by: Public Affairs

Early this morning, President Obama declared a major disaster in Alabama as a result of the severe storms and tornadoes that began on April 15.

This makes federal funding available to individuals and business owners in Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marshall, Tuscaloosa, and Walker counties, which can include grants for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans. Federal funding is also available to state and eligible local governments in all 67 counties in the state as they continue with debris removal and emergency protective measures, such as providing shelter and meals.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance today by:

  • registering online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/,
  • registering through a web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov, or by
  • calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.  The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

As you may remember from soon after the storms struck, President Obama authorized an emergency declaration for Alabama, another avenue to provide federal assistance to support the state and local response efforts.  At the President’s direction, Administrator Fugate has been on the ground in Alabama since yesterday morning, in both Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, and will be with the President in Alabama today. Deputy Administrator Rich Serino was on the ground in Georgia yesterday, and will be in Mississippi, with Governor Barbour, today.

In all of the areas affected by the severe storms and tornadoes, we continue to work closely with the entire emergency management team, especially the state emergency management agencies in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.  As President Obama said just after the storms hit, the federal government “stands ready to continue to help the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms”.

For the latest updates on our role, check out the Severe Storms / Tornadoes category on the blog.  And if your area is at risk for severe storms and tornadoes in the future, you can take steps to get prepared at http://www.ready.gov/.


Financial Literacy & Disaster Preparedness - December 28, 2010 by dharkanjhel

Posted by: Elizabeth Zimmerman, Deputy Associate Administrator, Response and Recovery

Disasters not only affect community infrastructure and public works, but they often overcome family finances, making recovery difficult and sometimes impossible. Before, during and after disasters strike, we work with a number of non-profit, voluntary and faith-based groups who specialize in getting disaster survivors financially back on their feet.

As we often say, FEMA is just one part of the emergency management team that helps individuals and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.  In this light, we’ve renewed our partnership with Operation HOPE, a non-profit public benefit corporation, to enhance financial counseling services available before, during and after disasters.

Operation HOPE Founder and CEO John Hope Bryant (L) and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the two organizations.

Our partnership with Operation HOPE will result in greater access to free financial counseling and information for disaster survivors, including:

  • debt counseling,
  • case management services, and
  • workshops, seminars and manuals for those seeking help at disaster recovery centers.

In conjunction with National Financial Literacy Month and the agreement signing held on April 27, we also will be co-hosting a webinar with Operation HOPE on Emergency Financial Preparedness.  This webinar, scheduled for May 3, will emphasize the importance of what it means to be financially prepared.  We will also touch on why, in the face of disaster, failing to be financially prepared can create even more stress and anxiety than the disaster itself.

So, what can you do to be financially prepared for emergencies?

  • Start by completing an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit. This document can help you keep track of important documentation, like insurance policy information, so you have clear financial records that will help maintain stability in the event of an emergency.

Find additional resources on financial preparedness, more on our partnership with Operation HOPE, and information on helping your community prepare for a disaster at www.CitizenCorps.gov

Board members from Operation HOPE and senior leadership from FEMA pose for a group picture after the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the two organizations.