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After the Hurricanes: Long Term Disaster Assistance Programs

October 26, 2011

After hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma ravaged the coastal regions of the U.S. many people are still unable to find their grounds and get back to normal lives. The damage caused by these hurricanes to people’s homes, livelihoods, automobiles and personal belongings have amounted to billions of dollars and many who lost all or most of the above find it extra difficult to get their lives back to normal.

As a company based in Boca Raton, Florida, CreditGUARD of America, Inc. feels the pain and anguish that most of these people suffered due to these hurricanes. As a result, we have compiled and listed some of the disaster relief programs that are designed to provide assistance to residents in various disaster areas.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

The United States Department of Labor has initiated several programs to assist residents whose earning capabilities are lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and for those who are not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance. The Department of Labor coordinates the DUA with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and State Workforce Agencies to effectively distribute funds locally.

Florida residents can obtain information about DUA and State Unemployment Insurance by visitinghttp://www.floridajobs.org/unemployment/uc_emp_claims.html or by calling 1-800-204-2418. The website offers various information on applications, filling, eligibility and other general information. The website also allows applicants to file a claim online.

Alabama claims can be filed by calling 1-866-234-5382 or 1-800-449-2035.

Louisiana applicants may file a claim by visiting www.laworks.net or by calling 1-800-430-8076. Applicants can also visit any Louisiana Job Service Center.

Mississippi claims can be filed by calling 1-888-844-3577 or by visiting any office of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Disaster Housing Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is coordinating with FEMA and other local authorities to help families displaced by the recent hurricanes to locate temporary and long-term housing. HUD’s relocation specialists’ work closely with the state and city administrators throughout the U.S. to locate any available housing resources and assign displaced families to those locations of their preference and availability. HUD also provides rental relief for most of these families who are trying to get back on their feet and award rental relief on a case-by-case basis. For more information on housing assistance programs please visit http://www.hud.gov/ or call 1-888-297-8685.

FEMA Disaster Food Stamp Programs

Usually a week or so after the disaster, FEMA officials set up food stamp programs across the disaster areas for victims who are unable to purchase food items due to loss of income. Residents who do not qualify for regular food stamp programs will qualify for the disaster food stamp programs if the resident lives in a designated disaster area. To apply, applicants should bring their photo identification card as well as their social security card. For more information call 1-800-621-FEMA or visit www.fema.gov .

Disaster Mental Health Resources

Disasters such as what we experienced this year can have far-reaching effects into our emotional lives making rebuilding extremely difficult. Survivors who lost family members, homes, personal belongings and etc may face a greater risk of mental instability due to grief, stress, uncertainty and disrupted living conditions caused by these hurricanes.

To help out these individuals, many town, city and statewide community groups are set up in most of these disaster areas to provide mental health counseling. In the workplace, you may be able to get assistance from your human resources department or through your company’s Employee Assistance Program. To find such mental health programs please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resourceshttp://www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/NMH02-0139/default.asp .

* U.S. Department of Labor home page – Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Retried fromhttp://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/disaster.asp

** U.S. Department of Housing home page – HUD’s response to hurricanes. Retried fromhttp://www.hud.gov/news/katrina05response.cfm

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