Isabel was costly

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 17, 2003

Staff report

In the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, federal, state and local officials continue to assist citizens and communities in need of disaster assistance. The following is the latest recovery information:

More than $31.2 million has been approved so far to help families with disaster-related needs. More than $21.8 million approved for housing needs and nearly $9.6 million approved for other disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.

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So far, more than $9.5 million has been approved to help the state and communities with debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to ensure the safety and well being of citizens. In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state will be assisting with the restoration to public buildings, equipment, roads, bridges, water facilities and utilities damaged by Hurricane Isabel.

More than $24 million has been approved to support life-sustaining missions since the onset of Hurricane Isabel. More than six million pounds of ice and more than one million gallons of water were delivered to staging areas for distribution throughout affected areas.

More than 12,200 people have visited Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) to receive information on disaster assistance. A complete list of DRCs can be found at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s Web site – Click on &uot;Isabel Information Center.&uot;

More than 74,600 individuals have registered for disaster assistance by calling FEMA’s toll-free number at: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. The deadline for applying for assistance is Nov. 17.

The FEMA Helpline also is operational for those who may need to check on the status of their application or make changes to vital information such as their telephone number or address. The telephone number and hours are the same as the registration number. The Helpline can also refer those who want to visit a DRC for disaster information to a center nearest them.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued more than 50,400 applications and approved more than $4.7 million in low-interest loans to homeowners and businesses. Those who receive SBA packets in the mail are encouraged to complete and return them to SBA as soon as possible.

To assist those with temporary housing needs, FEMA and the state have worked together to provide &uot;interim housing&uot; by setting up 104 travel trailers on approved sites with 91 units now occupied.

People living or working in any of the disaster-declared jurisdictions whose jobs have been affected by Hurricane Isabel, may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) through the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). Individuals may visit the nearest VEC office for more information. The filing deadline for DUA is Oct. 24.

The emotional consequences of disasters like Hurricane Isabel can be far reaching and long lasting. If you or someone you know is suffering from signs of stress, you can get information on the nearest crisis counseling center by calling 1-866-400-2951. Those who may be speech or hearing impaired should call 711, the Virginia Relay number. The lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

On March 1, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA’s continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration