FEMA hot line, Web site can point residents to assistance

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 12, 2005

Lincoln and other area counties’ addition to a federal disasterdeclaration list is a positive step toward helping thousands ofarea residents impacted by Hurricane Katrina get back on their feetfollowing the storm.

The process, however, will be slower than many would like, andpatience will be needed. A disaster recovery center is in theprocess of being set up in the county, but plans have not beenfinalized.

A $51.8 billion hurricane relief bill passed last week includesmoney to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to givedisplaced families $2,000 each to meet immediate needs. The debitcard program is starting in Texas, where many hurricane evacueesare now staying.

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Local officials said FEMA’s 1-800-621-3362 is still the “mainavenue” for residents to begin applying for assistance. Residentswill need to register over the phone or at the agency’s Web site atwww.fema.gov to get assistance.

That assistance can include financial help for temporaryhousing, home repair or replacement, funeral costs, household itemsand educational material purchases.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, more help will be needed,but the declaration will go a long way in helping recoveryefforts.