OLYMPIA, Wash.- Did you have damage during the storms and flooding between Jan. 6 to 16, 2009? You may be eligible for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Washington Emergency Management Division (WEMD).

Residents of the following Washington counties are eligible to receive disaster assistance: Benton, Cowlitz, Clallam, Grays Harbor, King, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum and Whatcom.

FEMA agents said even if you have registered with local agencies, it is necessary to register with FEMA. Applicants can register for FEMA assistance by calling, toll-free, (800) 621-3362 (FEMA), TTY (800) 462-7585, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, or register online at (www.disasterassistance.gov)

Individual assistance may be available for homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes. Assistance may include housing assistance grants, property grants under the federal/state "Other Needs Assistance" program, and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

After you've registered for disaster assistance, you will be assigned a registration number. A few days later, you will receive a phone call from an inspector who will make an appointment to come to your house to verify the damage. The inspection generally takes 30 to 40 minutes and includes all areas of the home and personal property.

Residents do not have to wait for the inspector to arrive before beginning repairs. Photographs, contractor estimates and receipts can be provided to FEMA inspectors to document the extent of damage.

Disaster unemployment assistanceWashington residents in the above counties also may be eligible for disaster unemployment benefits if they lost their jobs or cannot work because of the storms and flooding that struck the region in January.

Disaster unemployment benefits are only for people who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits, such as self-employed individuals.

To qualify for disaster benefits, people must be out of work as a direct result of the January storm.

Applications are available online at (www.dua.go2ui.com), by phone at (877) 416-7274, or by e-mail at (dua@esd.wa.gov). The local WorkSource office can assist in printing the online application.


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