County designated as disaster area by federal and state agencies; FEMA begins aid here

257

Still trying to dig out from the devastation of the windstorm that hit Switzerland County and other areas on Sunday, September 14th, county emergency officials here have been informed that Switzerland County was one of 10 more Indiana counties that Governor Mitch Daniels asked for the federal government to declare disaster areas.

The Disaster Declarations were approved by President George Bush, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); and state agencies such as Homeland Security.

Joining Switzerland County on the new list are: Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Jackson, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Pike, and Spencer counties. Jefferson County was approved earlier by the federal government.

This official declaration now means that residents here are qualified for individual assistance.

This assistance includes:

– Grants for temporary disaster housing assistance.

– Grants to help meet serious disaster-related needs and expenses that are not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.

– Assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which can provide low interest loans to homeowners, renters, and business owners to repair or replace real or personal property; and also for housing repair.

Locally, state and federal officials have established an office on the west side of Vevay in the shopping center where the video store is next to the Dollar General Store, 1035 West Main Street, Suite 3.

Early on Wednesday morning many residents who had suffered losses from the windstorm were in line to apply to try and get something back for all that they lost.

Those wanting to fill out an application through FEMA for disaster assistance may also fill them out online or over the telephone 24 hours a day.

Those wanting to register online may do so at http://www.fema.gov/assistance; or you may call toll free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

FEMA assistance can include grants for temporary housing and for home repairs; low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses; as well as other programs to help individuals and businesses recover from the storm.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has also announced that it has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue emergency food stamps to residents here who suffered losses due to the storm.

The help applies to all residents who were affected by the windstorm, including those people in the county who do not currently receive state assistance.

The help comes as a result of families being without power for several days during the aftermath of the storm, and that loss of power led to many residents losing food that they had in their freezers and refrigerators.

Families have until this Tuesday, October 14th, to apply for the emergency benefit, and the benefit is for one month.

Those wanting to apply for the program should go to the office that has been established by the Switzerland County Division of Family Resources, 1035 West Main Street, Suite 3, next to the video store.

Applicants should bring their driver’s license or other form of identification. Other forms of identification include: work or school ID, birth certificate, wage stub, and also a document that verifies the person’s home address. Applicants may need to provide their Social Security number as part of the application process.

The Department of Homeland Security is also asking resident to make sure that they have reported their damage as a result of the storm.

Electronically, damage may be reported through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s website: www.in.gov/dhs; or you can use a toll free number to call, 1-888-335-9490.

Locally, Gary Wentworth is the Switzerland County Department of Emergency Management/Homeland Security director.

Through last Friday, FEMA has reports of more than $1.3 million in disaster recovery grants being already approved; with 13,014 Indiana residents having applied for assistance and an additional 15,850 had visited disaster assistance centers like the one that has been set up here.