MADISON, Wis. (6/23/08)--The devastating effects of floodwaters are taking a toll--both personally and financially--on city dwellers and farmers throughout the Midwest and beyond. If you have been affected by any natural disaster, know where to go for help. The Credit Union National Association center for personal finance has compiled a list:
* FEMA. If your area is designated a disaster area by the president, do this first: Apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) online at fema.gov (click “Apply for Assistance”) or call 800-621-FEMA (621-3362). You must register to qualify for grants or low-interest loans. Have these items handy when you call: Social Security number, current and predisaster address, telephone number where you can be contacted, insurance information, total household annual income, and routing and account number from your financial institution if you want disaster assistance direct deposited to your checking account quickly. You’ll also need to provide a description of your losses caused by the disaster. After you apply, you’ll receive a FEMA application number; keep this number for future reference. It may take seven to 10 days for an inspector to arrive. Don’t wait--begin the clean-up process as soon as you can. Keep receipts for repairs already made. * U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. Funding is available to help individuals and organizations affected by recent natural disasters in several states in the Midwest (U.S. Department of Agriculture June 16). Grant and loan funds provide assistance for housing and shelter, public safety, health care, and community facilities and business recovery assistance. For more information, visit rurdev.usda.gov. * American Red Cross. RedCross.gov contains the latest news on current disasters, as well as links to disaster services, preparedness, blood services, volunteering, tips for military members and families, and more. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter or call 800-REDCROSS (733-2767). * Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org for links to current programs helping victims, or contact your local chapter. * Your insurance agent. Discuss claims and be ready to document your personal belongings with photos, videotape, or lists if you have them. Ideally, this documentation should be in your safe deposit box or already on file with your insurance agent. For information about the National Flood Insurance Program, visit Floodsmart.gov. * County health department. Officials can tell you of local disaster and health services, community health problems, and environmental health hazards. * Local radio stations. Listen for road closures, food and water distribution sites, and other local aid services.
Anyone wishing to donate to disaster relief efforts can contact:
* Red Cross: Call 800-HELP-NOW (435-7669) or visit redcross.org; * Salvation Army: Call 800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769) or visit salvationarmyusa.org; and * Local relief charities.