FEMA Talks Their Role In Relief Efforts - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

FEMA Talks Their Role In Relief Efforts

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DELMARVA - As people throughout Delmarva begin to recover from Sandy, many wonder if and when federal disaster relief might be available.

Tuesday, a FEMA representative spoke to Jarred Hill about the agency's role in the recovery effort, and he responded to some of those hard-to-answer questions.

According to Mike Wade, a FEMA spokesperson, "at this point in time in the state of Maryland we are here assisting the state and the local authorities actually doing what we call preliminary damage assessments."

Those assessments, along with the local and state government, take a look at the damage communities incurred.  Wade says the information collected "then goes back to the governor's office where, if he feels that the resources at the local and state level have been exceeded, and they cannot recover without federal help, he can then ask for a federal declaration."

But there are two different types of declarations that can be declared.  There's Individual Assistance (IA) which would help individual residents and their families, and the other is Public Assistance (PA). This helps repair public organizations like government buildings, public schools, public services such as some meal assistance programs, and other parts of government infrastructure.

According to FEMA, it's possible to get one, both, or none.  "It's really entirely what the governor puts in his request, and what's eventually approved by the president," says Michael Wade.

Looking at the case of Superstorm Sandy, the majority of Maryland was not badly affected by the storm, and one misconception is that an entire state must be approved for a declaration, but according to FEMA, "a county by itself could possibly get approved for a declaration…Three counties, including Somerset, were requested" in Governor Martin O'Malley's report.

But communities and individuals shouldn't wait for federal assistance before they start rebuilding their homes and lives, especially since there's no guarantee that aid will come.

Wade says "it's a whole community process; FEMA is just one part of that process."

The first step, should be contacting your insurance company.  If you don't have insurance, reach out to the county emergency services office and non-profit organizations that are helping to administer help to residents.

One residents do begin making repairs, FEMA reminds those effected by Sandy that they need to keep detailed records of the original damage, take pictures of everything, and keep receipts for all repair work to make things go more smoothly if FEMA is able to step in and provide some assistance.

For more information on FEMA, visit http://coop.fema.gov/media/fact_sheets/index.shtm

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