Officials urge Tennesseans to help families, friends, neighbors file for assistance now
Nashville, TN – Many Tennessee seniors – and others with damage from last month’s disastrous floods – don’t understand how to apply for help from the federal government and are running out of time to seek assistance, officials tell AARP.
The deadline to register for federal assistance in the 48 counties declared disaster areas after storms ravaged West and Middle Tennessee is July 6th, The Federal Emergency Management Agency has announced.
Tennesseans can apply online anytime at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 800-462-7585 for those with speech and hearing disabilities. They also can ask questions and apply for assistance at disaster recovery centers in the affected counties.
Nearly 64,000 Tennesseans have applied to FEMA, which has paid out $130 million in grants to date, according to Cecil Whaley of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. But many who may be eligible for assistance have not sought it or haven’t filled out all the appropriate paperwork to get the help they need, he said.
One major problem is they don’t understand that if they receive a disaster loan application from the Small Business Administration they must fill it out – even if they’re not business owners and don’t want a low-interest loan – to get additional flood recovery assistance. That application also must be completed and returned by July 6th.
Officials urge all Tennesseans who were affected by the floods to register with FEMA even if they have insurance. You can get assistance with temporary housing, home repair and replacement, medical, dental, funeral, transportation, moving and storage and other authorized expenses.
AARP hosted a meeting this week with emergency responders to ensure that the needs of Tennessee seniors are being met. “We want to make sure that no one falls through the cracks,” AARP Tennessee State Director Rebecca Kelly said afterward. “If there are people who need help, we want to make sure that they are connected with people who can help.”
She urged Tennesseans who know people with flood damage to tell them about the July 6th deadline and help them through the application process or connect them with the appropriate agency to help.
Kelly also urged Tennesseans to share the easy-to-remember phone number – 211 – set up by The United Way for folks who need volunteers to help clean up or are seeking information about resources and services.
“Being the Volunteer State, we jumped in quickly to help clean out houses and businesses, and to make sure our neighbors had food, clothing and a dry place to stay. Now we can help them by sharing information and helping them apply for assistance before the deadline so they won’t miss out on resources that can aid in recovery,” she said.
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