STATE – New Jersey residents who were affected by Hurricane Irene should not forego registering for disaster assistance just because they think doing so will keep the assistance from reaching less-fortunate neighbors. Federal and state officials are assuring Garden State residents that there is enough disaster assistance available for everyone who qualifies.
“Many times, there are people who feel others may have suffered more in a disaster than they have. And frequently these people don’t want to take money from those they think may have a greater need, especially families,” said William L. Vogel, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s federal coordinating officer.
Individual assistance is always a funding priority, said Vogel, adding that, “those financial commitments are always honored.”
To date, more than $44 million has been disbursed to Hurricane Irene survivors in New Jersey under FEMA’s individuals and households program. Nearly $42.5 million of this has been in housing assistance and $2.3 million providing assistance for other needs.
There also are other disaster survivors who do not register for assistance because they think accepting disaster assistance will interfere with other benefits they may be receiving.
“Federal and state disaster grants will not affect Social Security benefits and the grants are not taxable,” said Vogel. “Income is not considered when registering for disaster assistance.”
Disaster assistance is based on individual need. The first thing to do is to register.
There are three ways to register – go to www.disasterassistance.gov, to m.fema.gov or call FEMA toll-free, 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA). Those with access or functional needs and who use a TTY may call 1-800-462-7585 or use 711 or Video Relay Service to call 1-800-621-3362. Telephone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., ET; multilingual operators are available.
A disaster relief funding bill that was blocked by Senate Republicans on Monday was allowed to advance for deliberations yesterday. Some Republicans would prefer to identify cuts from other areas of the federal budget before moving forward with the authorization of more money for disaster relief efforts.
“I am incredibly pleased that, tonight, Senate Republicans have chosen to put aside partisan politics and GOP gamesmanship and stand up for thousands of communities and families that need our help,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
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