Let's cross our fingers that FEMA has its business in order this time around.

Residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.

The toll-free telephone numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time) Monday through Sunday until further notice. Applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves (name, permanent address, phone number), insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate losses.

Assistance may include rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance can be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. If requested after the initial period, extentions may be granted based on a review of individual applicant requirements.

FEMA help may also include: grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional; grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs; and unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.

Refer to the FEMA Web site for additional benefits.

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