Press Releases

Press Releases

Press Releases

Survivors Beware! Fraud, Scams Flourish After Disasters

Thu, 24 Sep 2020 12:02:10 +0000

Survivors Beware! Fraud, Scams Flourish After Disasters

CLANTON, Ala. – After a disaster, scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals often attempt to take advantage of disaster survivors. Federal and Alabama emergency management officials urge residents to watch for and report any suspicious activity.

When a disaster strikes, unscrupulous people may try to take advantage of survivors by posing as official disaster aid workers or even as relatives trying to help survivors complete their applications.

Common post-disaster fraud practices include:

Fake offers of state or federal aid: Federal and state workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) personnel never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in completing applications.

Phony housing inspectors: Owners/applicants may be especially vulnerable to phony housing inspectors claiming to represent FEMA. Ask to see the inspector’s identification badge. All federal employees carry official, laminated photo identification. Housing inspectors have each applicant’s nine-digit registration number. Inspectors will call you on the telephone to make an appointment; they will not contact you by email.

There may be occasions when a FEMA representative must contact you to verify personal data.  You should request a FEMA identification number from the caller.  If you are unsure of the caller’s identification or you are suspicious of someone who says they’re a housing inspector sent by FEMA, call the FEMA Hotline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). 

Phony government workers: You may be contacted by scam artists posing as disaster workers who are seeking money for services.  Federal and local disaster workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications. Nor will federal disaster employees promise a disaster grant.

Fraudulent charitable solicitations: A list of reputable charities that are approved by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance is available at Give.Org. Criminals exploit survivors by sending fraudulent communications through email or social media and by creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions.

The Alliance advises “do not respond to unsolicited emails, watch out for pushy telemarketers and look out for fake charities that sound real by using similar names.” For more information about avoiding charitable giving scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.

Rental listing scams: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information on how rental listing scams work. For instance, scammers know that finding the right apartment or vacation rental can be hard work, and a seemingly good deal is hard to pass up. Learn more at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0079-rental-listing-scams.

If you have knowledge of fraud, waste or abuse, you can report these tips - 24 hours a day, seven days a week - to the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Or, email disaster@leo.gov.

If you believe you or a loved one has become a victim of a scam or identity theft, report it immediately to your local police or sheriff’s department, or contact the office of the Alabama Attorney General:

For the latest information on Hurricane Sally, visit https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4563

                                                                          ###

                         FEMA’s mission: Helping people before, during, and after disasters.

neily.chapmanThu, 09/24/2020 - 08:02

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FEMA Awards $15.6 Million for Hurricane Irma Recovery in Florida

Thu, 24 Sep 2020 19:13:27 +0000

FEMA Awards $15.6 Million for Hurricane Irma Recovery in Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. – FEMA has awarded grants totaling $15,634,775 for the State of Florida to reimburse applicants for the costs of emergency response and debris removal following Hurricane Irma.

The FEMA Public Assistance grants include:

  • Florida Department of Corrections: $5,939,234 for emergency measures taken to protect life and property at detention facilities statewide, including evacuation of inmates, sandbagging dormitories, installation of storm shutters, providing emergency pumping for disabled lift stations and strengthening facilities.
  • Miami-Dade County: $4,088,667 for removal of 177,165 tons of vegetative debris, 892 hazardous leaning trees and 11,161 hanging limbs from public roads, property and rights-of-way.
  • Florida Department of Transportation: $3,737,820 for debris removal in Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties. Crews removed 71,390 cubic yards of vegetative debris, 884 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris, 284 hazardous leaning trees and 5,929 hanging limbs.
  • Collier County School District: $1,869,054 for emergency measures taken to protect life and property, including security and emergency access for students and faculty, mold remediation, replacing storm shutters and debris removal.

FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides grants to state, tribal, and local governments, and certain types of private nonprofit organizations, including some houses of worship, so that communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. The Florida Division of Emergency Management works with FEMA during all phases of the program and conducts final reviews of FEMA-approved projects.

The federal share for projects is not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost. The state determines how the nonfederal share of the cost of a project (up to 25 percent) is split with the subrecipients like local and county governments.

mayshaunt.garyThu, 09/24/2020 - 15:13

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Look Out for Disaster Fraud, Scams

Thu, 24 Sep 2020 13:25:38 +0000

Look Out for Disaster Fraud, Scams

GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico – When natural disasters occur, it is common for some people to take advantage of survivors by posing as official disaster aid workers trying to help survivors complete their applications.

Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, text or in person. In Puerto Rico, survivors of Tropical Storm Isaías should be aware of fraud and scams, and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud from scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals.

Federal and state workers never ask for or accept money, and they always carry identification badges. There is no fee required to apply for or to get federal disaster assistance.

During each disaster, it’s important to stay tuned to local media and trusted local and federal social media. They provide current updates about ongoing disasters with tips on disaster fraud.

If something makes you feel uncomfortable, check with FEMA or local law enforcement to ensure your identity is protected.

If you suspect fraud, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. You may also file a complaint with police.

FEMA also recommends you monitor your credit report for any accounts or changes you do not recognize. If you discover someone is using your information, you will need to take additional steps, including filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission through its website IdentityTheft.gov.

The first step to recovery is to apply with FEMA. To apply:

  • Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Press 2 for a Spanish-speaking operator. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
  • Visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Download FEMA’s mobile app. Select Disaster Resources and click on DisasterAssistance.gov. If you have an Apple device: Text APPLE to 43362 (4FEMA). For those with an Android device: Text ANDROID to 43362 (4FEMA). For more information go to: www.fema.gov/mobile-app.

For more information on Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4560

and Facebook: www.facebook.com/femapuertorico.

 

 

jassiel.oliveromeloThu, 09/24/2020 - 09:25

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Direct Temporary Housing Assistance Available for Laura Survivors in Louisiana

Thu, 24 Sep 2020 19:32:44 +0000

Direct Temporary Housing Assistance Available for Laura Survivors in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La.— The State of Louisiana and FEMA are working together to provide direct temporary housing assistance to eligible survivors impacted by Hurricane Laura.

Direct Temporary Housing Assistance is approved for certain eligible applicants in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vernon parishes. The following forms of direct temporary housing may be provided:

  • Temporary Housing Units are readily fabricated dwellings such as travel trailers or mobile homes. These dwellings are purchased by FEMA and provided to eligible applicants for use as temporary housing for a limited period.
  • Direct Lease utilizes existing ready-for-occupancy residential property leased for use as temporary housing for eligible applicants, and, if necessary, these units can be modified or improved to provide reasonable accommodations for eligible applicants and any household members with a disability and others with access and functional needs.
  • Multi-Family Lease and Repair allows FEMA to enter into lease agreements with owners of multi-family rental properties and to make repairs or improvements to those properties in order to provide temporary housing to applicants.

Survivors who are displaced from their homes and currently staying in hotels should continue to take advantage of the state’s non-congregate sheltering program until another solution becomes available. While the state and FEMA are progressing quickly to assist in the recovery process, immediate needs may be slowed due to the shortage of rental units, the time required to prepare sites for mobile housing and travel trailers, and the time required to make repairs to properties for the lease and repair program.

Once you have registered with FEMA for assistance, no further application is required for Direct Housing.

Uninsured or underinsured applicants whose homes are verified through the FEMA housing inspection as being uninhabitable due to being destroyed or having major damage will be called by FEMA to discuss their housing situation, household size and needs, and possible FEMA temporary housing options.

Survivors with phone or internet access may register with FEMA by:

Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Hurricane Laura Disaster Loans

SBA low-interest disaster loans are available for businesses of any size and certain nonprofits up to $2 million for property damage. For small businesses, those engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million for working capital needs even if there is no property damage.

Homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace a primary residence. For homeowners and renters, up to $40,000 to replace personal property, including vehicles, is available.

Businesses and residents can apply online at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance or email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov. For assistance completing an SBA application, call 800-659-2955 (TTY at 800-877-8339) or email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov

For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4559 or follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6.

 

christopher.teedThu, 09/24/2020 - 15:32

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Disaster Recovery Center in Marshall County to Close October 3

Thu, 24 Sep 2020 13:37:10 +0000

Disaster Recovery Center in Marshall County to Close October 3

Help is still available for derecho survivors

DES MOINES, Iowa – A FEMA Disaster Recovery Center will close in Marshall County on Saturday, October 3 at 6 p.m.  However, help for survivors of the August derecho is just a phone call, a mouse click or a tap away on the FEMA app.

The DRC in Marshalltown is located at:

101 Iowa Ave. W

Marshalltown, IA 50158

Behind the Marshalltown VA Clinic

(Please enter from W. Berle Rd and proceed south behind the building.)

 

As previously announced, the DRC in Cedar Rapids will close on Saturday, September 26 at 6 p.m. It is located at:

The parking lot between Cedar Rapids Kernels Stadium and Kingston Stadium

950 Rockford Rd. SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

(Enter the parking lot from the corner of Veterans Memorial Drive and Kurt Warner Way).

 

DRCs are open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time

Closed Sundays

Survivors do not have to visit a DRC to register or submit documents to FEMA. 

Applicants may register in the following ways:

  • Go online to DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Download the FEMA Mobile App for smartphones.
  • Call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Central Time, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

Documents also may be submitted in any of the following ways:

  • Mail to FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055. 
  • Fax to 800-827-8112.
  • Submit them via a FEMA online account. To set up an online account,  visit DisasterAssistance.gov, click on “Check Status” and follow the directions.

Survivors in Benton, Boone, Cedar, Jasper, Linn, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story and Tama counties have until October 19 to register for disaster assistance.

thomas.wiseThu, 09/24/2020 - 09:37

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President Donald J. Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Florida

Thu, 24 Sep 2020 15:42:11 +0000

President Donald J. Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Florida

WASHINGTON -- FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of Florida to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Sally from Sept. 14, 2020, and continuing.

Federal funding is available through FEMA’s Public Assistance program at a 75% cost share to state, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Sally in Escambia County.

Additionally, emergency protective measures, including any direct federal assistance, will be available to state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Washington counties.

Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Jeffrey L. Coleman has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal response and recovery operations in the affected area.

Designations may be made at a later date if warranted by the results of damage assessments.

zella.campbellThu, 09/24/2020 - 11:42

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Drive-thru Disaster Recovery Centers Opening in Acadia and Beauregard Parishes

Thu, 24 Sep 2020 16:31:35 +0000

Drive-thru Disaster Recovery Centers Opening in Acadia and Beauregard Parishes

BATON ROUGE, La. – Drive-thru Disaster Recovery Centers will open in Acadia and Beauregard parishes Saturday, Sept. 26, to help Hurricane Laura survivors.

The drive-thru center is staffed with FEMA personnel who are available to scan documents, assist with registration and answer questions about disaster-assistance programs.

The center operates under strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure visitors are safe. Masks or face coverings are required for entry and service. Visitors remain in their cars. A specialist wearing a face mask will receive documents through the window and return them.

No appointments are necessary. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

The drive-thru centers are located at:

Acadia Parish                                                      Beauregard Parish

Southside Community Center                                   War Memorial Civic Center

403 4th St.                                                                  250 W. 7th St.

Rayne, LA 70578                                                       DeRidder, LA 70634

Additional centers are already open in Louisiana. Survivors may visit any center in Louisiana. To locate the closest center, call the FEMA Helpline, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or egateway.fema.gov/ESF6/DRCLocator or download the FEMA Mobile App at fema.gov/about/news-multimedia/app.

Survivors do not need to visit a drive-thru center to apply or update their application. To ask individual questions or submit information:

  • Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585
  • Visit disasterassistance.gov/
  • Download the FEMA Mobile App at fema.gov/about/news-multimedia/app To find a drive-thru DRC you can text 43362 and type DRC (Your Zip Code) for example DRC 01234.
  • On an Android device, text 2637643 (ANDROID) to 43362; on an Apple device, text 27753 (APPLE) to 43362 or call 211 or text 527435837 (LASHELTER) to 898-211.
  • Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, Innocaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service.

SBA low-interest disaster loans are available for businesses of any size and certain nonprofits up to $2 million for property damage. For small businesses, those engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million for working capital needs even if there is no property damage.

Homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace a primary residence. For homeowners and renters, up to $40,000 to replace personal property, including vehicles, is available.

Businesses and residents can apply online at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance or email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov. For assistance completing an SBA application, call 800-659-2955. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800) 877-8339 or email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov.   

For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4559 or follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6.

 

christopher.teedThu, 09/24/2020 - 12:31

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FEMA approves $11.4 million for Calhoun Liberty Hospital Hurricane Michael recovery

Thu, 24 Sep 2020 19:01:13 +0000

FEMA approves $11.4 million for Calhoun Liberty Hospital Hurricane Michael recovery

PANAMA CITY, Fla. FEMA has approved $11,438,155 to reimburse Calhoun Liberty Hospital Association, Inc. for repairs after Hurricane Michael.

The funds will reimburse the hospital for the cost of rebuilding the structure in Blountstown and hardening it to mitigate damage from future storms.

This grant is funded by FEMA’s Public Assistance program, an essential source of funding for communities recovering from a federally declared disaster or emergency. The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) works with FEMA during all phases of the PA program and reviews projects prior to FEMA final approval.

Applicants work directly with FEMA to develop projects and scopes of work. FEMA obligates funding for projects after final approval.

Once a project is obligated by FEMA, FDEM works closely with applicants to finalize grants and begin making payments. FDEM has implemented new procedures designed to ensure grant funding is provided to local communities as quickly as possible.

FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides grants to state, tribal and local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations, including houses of worship, so communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies.

mayshaunt.garyThu, 09/24/2020 - 15:01

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State and Federal Funds Approved for Waubay Flood Mitigation Project

Wed, 23 Sep 2020 17:05:09 +0000

State and Federal Funds Approved for Waubay Flood Mitigation Project

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – FEMA has awarded a $1.66 million grant to the City of Waubay, South Dakota for home acquisitions. The grant will fund the purchase of ten properties that have been impacted by repetitive flooding caused by closed-basin lakes in Day County. This project will allow property owners to relocate away from the flood hazard and prevent future damage.

The project will include the purchase of each structure, demolition and returning the property to green space in perpetuity. These lots will be owned by the City of Waubay. The $1.66 million from FEMA represents a 75 percent cost-share of the project, which totals roughly $2.21 million. The State of South Dakota will contribute more than $221,000 with the local community responsible for the remaining costs.

“Acquisition projects like this allow property owners in high-risk areas a chance to relocate, permanently eliminating future flood losses.” Said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Jon Huss.

Funding for this grant is provided through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), which is designed to assist states, U.S. territories, federally-recognized tribes, and local communities in increasing their understanding and taking proactive action to help people reduce their losses from natural hazards. The goal is to reduce overall risk to the population and structures from future hazard events, while also reducing reliance on federal funding in future disasters.

The HMGP program is funded through a percentage of overall federal disaster response and recovery costs, ranging from 15 to 20 percent. South Dakota recently had an enhanced statewide hazard mitigation plan approved. This makes the state eligible for the maximum of 20 percent toward the program.

“Completing our enhanced mitigation plan demonstrated the commitment South Dakota has to minimizing the impact of future disasters,” said Tina Titze, State Coordinating Officer and the director of the state Office of Emergency Management. “The additional federal funding is helping to complete projects like this in Waubay and others around the state.”

Additional information about HMGP can be found at www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program

Brian.HvindenWed, 09/23/2020 - 13:05

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Plan Ahead Before Going Home

Wed, 23 Sep 2020 17:48:11 +0000

Plan Ahead Before Going Home

SALEM, Ore. – As evacuation levels change, people affected by the fires are eager to know when it is safe to go home. As conditions may be unknown in an area, it is important that residents follow the advice of local authorities to learn when it is safe to return. Residents should also check road closures and conditions to know the safest way to travel. Check roads by visiting Oregon Dept. of Transportation’s TripCheck.com.

Once local authorities have given the all-clear to re-enter properties, homeowners should take steps to protect themselves and others, when cleaning up after a wildfire. Many dangers may remain, such as ash and fire debris, which can be toxic.

Staying safe around ashes:

  • If you see ash or a layer of dust, keep children away until it has been cleaned.
  • Cloth face coverings, paper masks or bandanas are not effective at filtering out fine airborne ash, dust or asbestos fibers. N95 or KN95 respirators, if properly fit, tested and worn, can offer protection from airborne particles.
  • Avoid activities that could stir up ash and make it airborne again, like using a leaf blower, dry sweeping, or vacuuming without a HEPA filter.
  • Use rubber gloves when cleaning up ash. Wash any ash off of your body or clothing right away.
  • To clean up ash outdoors: Gently dampen the ash – do not use a pressure washer, which will generate dust before it wets things down. Then use a vacuum with a high efficiency HEPA filter if you have one. If you don't have a HEPA-equipped vacuum, gently sweep or scoop up the ash.
  • To clean up ash indoors: Use a damp cloth to clean surfaces, a wet mop on floors. Do not use a vacuum to clean up ash unless it has a high efficiency HEPA filter.
  • Turn on an air purifier or ventilation system with a HEPA filter, if you have one, to help remove particles from indoor air.
  • Find more safety tips on the Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality website.

Making your yard safe:

  • Extinguish hot embers. Check for them in yard debris, rain gutters or crawl spaces, on the roof, and under overhangs and decks.
  • Clear away debris. Move it away from the house to the edge of your home.
  • Check the electric meter. If there is visible damage, don’t turn the breaker on. Call your utility company.
  • Stay clear of electrical wires on the ground. Report them to your utility company.
  • Check the gas meter, gas lines or propane tank. If there is visible damage or if you smell gas, call your local utility or propane company.

Before entering structures: If you have safety concerns, have a qualified building inspector or structural engineer inspect your structures. Don’t enter if you smell gas. Turn off the power before you inspect your structure. Use a flashlight, but turn it on outside because the flashlight battery may produce a spark that can cause a fire.

Entering your structures safely:

  • Check for immediate dangers. This includes remaining fire and fire damage, and wild or domestic animals that may have taken refuge.
  • Check the attic. Embers may have entered through vents.
  • Keep appliances turned off until you have determined the electric meter and electrical lines are undamaged.
  • Discard food that has been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot.
  • Don’t drink or use water from the faucet until emergency officials say it’s okay. Water systems may become polluted if there is post-fire flooding.
  • Take safety precautions for utilities:
    • Electric – If you turn on the breaker and still have no power, contact your utility company.
    • Propane tank or  system – Turn off the valves and call your propane supplier to inspect the system.
    • Heating oil tank system – Call your supplier to inspect it before you use it.
    • Solar electrical system – Have it inspected by a licensed technician to verify the solar panels and wiring are safe.

Documenting Damage and contacting your insurance company. Call your insurance agent. Make a list of the damage and document it with photos and videos. Keep all receipts for repair and cleaning costs.

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Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362)  711/VRS - Video Relay Service). Multilingual operators are available. (Press 2 for Spanish). TTY call 800-462-7585.

hannah.weinsteinWed, 09/23/2020 - 13:48

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