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USA: Additional FEMA workers and supplies are moved forward to affected areas as thousands call to apply for assistance

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Release number: R4-05-110

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Officials from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) continue to monitor the response effort and coordinate the recovery operations for Hurricane Dennis as thousands of disaster victims begin to call and apply for FEMA disaster assistance.

A third Alabama county, Escambia, was added for Individual Assistance for renters, homeowners, and business owners, which brings the total IA counties to five -- Baldwin and Mobile in Alabama and Escambia and Santa Rosa in Florida. Forty-five counties in Alabama, 38 in Mississippi and 13 along the panhandle of Florida are also eligible for federal infrastructure assistance, which includes debris removal, emergency protective services, and requested federal emergency work.

Residents who have suffered storm damage in these counties can begin the disaster application process by registering online at http://www.fema.gov or by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or for speech or hearing impaired 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).

More than 4,000 disaster victims called to apply on the first day that the application lines were open. The toll-free telephone numbers are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week until further notice, and multilingual operators are available.

A Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) is in route from its staging area in Meridian, Miss., to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla. The hospital suffered damage from the storm and the 35-member DMAT from Massachusetts (MA-2) and an additional seven members of an Alabama (AL-3) team will augment hospital operations while emergency repairs are being made.

Rapid needs and damage assessment teams met with Alabama and Florida officials yesterday to begin their work, which will identify additional emergency supplies that are needed and collect data to determine if other types of disaster assistance are necessary in the designated counties.

More than 300 truckloads of essential supplies such as water, ice, meals-ready-to-eat, tarps and generators have arrived in the affected states. Some previously pre-staged supplies have been shifted where necessary to meet immediate needs. Local distribution sites for water and ice were opened in both Alabama and Florida.

Four Disaster Recovery Centers will open today in Florida to assist disaster victims. Two Alabama centers are scheduled to open on Thursday. These centers serve as a one-stop information center and offer disaster victims a chance to talk face-to-face with federal recovery specialists, as well as state and local voluntary organization representatives who can provide additional assistance or help with immediate unmet needs for disaster victims.

FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages the federal response and recovery efforts following an incident of national significance. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, workers with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.