"A phone call begins the process," Federal Coordinating Officer William Lokey said in a statement. "While federal disaster assistance cannot replace all that is lost, we are here to help you get back on the path to recovery."
To register, call 800-621-3362. The telephone number for the speech- and hearing-impaired is 800-462-7585. The numbers were available beginning Saturday.
No decision is made about eligibility when the call is made, Lokey said. The call starts the process, enabling disaster victims to receive an application packet and other information.
FEMA encourages callers to have this information:
Current and pre-disaster address (if appropriate).
Proof of residency.
Current telephone numbers.
Insurance coverage, policy numbers and agent's name.
The FEMA packets may include a loan application to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Disaster victims must complete the form and return it to the SBA to be considered for assistance -- which may include grants or other federal and state aid -- from the agency.
FEMA assistance that may be available to Maryland residents affected by Isabel, based on need, includes:
Temporary housing: Provides rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance covers up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended.
Grants: For home repairs and replacement of essential items not covered by insurance to make damaged homes safe, sanitary and functional. Grants also may be awarded to replace personal property and to help cover expenses for medical, dental, funeral and transportation services. These costs would not be covered by insurance or other federal, state or charitable programs.
Unemployment assistance: Payments for up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of Isabel and who do not qualify for state jobless benefits. They primarily are self-employed individuals.
Low-interest loans: Payouts would cover residential losses not fully covered by insurance. These can total up to $200,000 for a primary residence and $40,000 for personal property losses, including those to renters. Business owners may receive up to $1.5 million for property losses not covered by insurance.
Loans: Assistance of up to $1.5 million for small businesses that have experienced cash-flow problems and need working capital to recover from the storm. In combination with a property-loss loan, the aid is capped at $1.5 million.
Farmers' aid: Loans of up to $500,000 to farmers and ranchers to recover from property and production losses.
Other programs: Assistance includes crisis counseling, income-tax assistance for filing casualty losses and advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits and Social Security issues.