DECLARING DISASTER: People in 42 counties in Alabama are now eligible for federal disaster assistance to individuals, households and businesses, according to a news release May 9 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (EMA). The Alabama counties include all seven in the Birmingham-Hoover metro area—Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby and Walker. As of May 7, more than 44,000 individuals and households had registered for disaster assistance, according to a FEMA news release. For more information, go to www.fema. gov or www.emad.alabama.gov.
AID AND SHELTER: The American Red Cross is operating shelters and emergency aid stations for Alabama’s storm victims, including those in Jefferson and Walker counties. Emergency aid stations are located at the following locations in Jefferson County: New Mount Moriah Baptist Church, 330 Marsh Avenue, Hueytown; West Town Plaza, 1916 Forestdale Blvd., Adamsville; Scott Elementary School, 1517 Hibernian Street, Pratt City; 5719 Warrior River Road, Concord; Hills Floodland, 851 Park Road, Pleasant Grove. A shelter is located at Boutwell Auditorium, 1931 Eighth Avenue North. In Walker County, there are emergency aid stations at the Argo Fire Department, 6558 Hwy. 78 West; and the Cordova Church of Christ, 2008 Alabama Ave. For more information, visit www. redcross.org. The American Red Cross currently has 11 shelters opened in Alabama.
HOUSING: Federal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan says that foreclosed homes might help in providing housing for Alabama tornado victims, according to a report from the Associated Press. Donovan says the government has identified 1,000 foreclosed homes in the state that are vacant and could be occupied by storm victims. Federal grant money—the secretary says there’s almost $24 million available for storm recovery in the state—could also be used for housing. Donovan’s comments came after he toured the badly damaged Pratt City Neighborhood in Birmingham on Monday, May 9. According to a May 8 release from FEMA, the first temporary housing units have been delivered to Alabama residents displaced by the tornadoes. Eleven units were delivered to the town of Phil Campbell, an area with a shortage of available rental housing and apartments. Additional housing units will be provided by FEMA and the state to other mostly rural counties with similar shortages. According to Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner, “We are working to house families as close to home as possible.”
DON’T FORGET THE ANIMALS: The Greater Birmingham Humane Society, in partnership with the Alabama EMA, helps find shelter for distressed dogs and cats displaced by the recent storms. Through its adoption program, GBHS finds responsible families for these pets. To provide assistance for pets displaced by the tornadoes, GBHS is requesting donations of dog beds, food and water bowls, litter boxes, collars, leashes and harnesses for all size dogs. To learn more, call (205) 942-1211 or visit www.gbhs.org.
GETTING HEALTH CARE: According to a news release May 6 from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is offering states affected by the tornadoes the means to speed Medicaid eligibility for those who may need health services but have no means to pay for them. Sebelius, the release says, recently told officials in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi how they can expand access to health care by providing temporary increases in Medicaid income eligibility limits and removing resource tests. States can also allow resi-dents who have lost documents in the storm to certify their income and residency and delay the process of confirming their eligibility. Sebelius, we’re told, promised that the department would expedite the federal approvals states may need for state plan amendments or waivers. According to the release, HHS is working with Alabama on such a waiver. Learn more at www.hhs.gov.
LET THE LAWYERS LIVE: Alabama lawyers are providing free advice for tornado victims, according to Mike Oliver in The Birmingham News. “For everyone affected by the tornado disaster, we are offering free legal assistance statewide to those who can’t otherwise afford it,” Alabama Bar Association President Alyce Spruell told Oliver. Those needing help can call the Alabama State Bar Association at (800) 354-6154 or Legal Services at (866) 456-4995. According to Oliver, the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program and the Birmingham Bar Association will host the following legal assistance clinics: May 12, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Faith Chapel Christian Center, 100 Lexington Street, Birmingham; May 24, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.- 6 p.m., Mount Moriah Baptist Church, 316 Avenue U, Birmingham; May 26, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2 p.m.- 6 p.m., Bethel Baptist Church, 639 Ninth Way, Pleasant Grove.
TO GET HELP FROM FEMA: To get assistance, you must register with FEMA. Call (800) 621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Those with speech or hearing impairments can call (TTY) (800) 462-7585. Register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by smartphone at m.fema.gov.
When registering, you will need the following information: Social Security number, current mailing address, address of the damaged property, a brief description of the damages; any insurance information, including the policy number and the name of your agent; and a phone number where you can be reached.
Assistance for homeowners and renters can include grants to help pay for rental housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses not met by insurance or other assistance programs.
Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are also available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance. Get the details at www.sba.gov.
DO STAY IN TOUCH: FEMA urges all Alabama residents who have registered for assistance to stay in close touch with the agency throughout the recovery, especially during the first weeks after registration when FEMA housing inspectors must contact applicants to view damages. For individuals and families displaced by the disaster, any changes in contact phone numbers should be updated immediately after any move. Selecting the helpline option at the toll-free FEMA registration line at (800) 621-3362 provides, we’re told, an easy way for applicants to update contact information and check on the status of their application. When calling the helpline, applicants should have their application identification number in hand.
GETTING SOCIAL: Get social with FEMA and AMA. For the Facebook page established by those agencies, go to www.facebook.com/ AlabamaEMA. To receive Twitter updates, go to twitter.com/AlabamaEMA or www.twitter.com/
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