April 14, 2010

Whitehouse Holds “Tele-Town Hall” to Answer RI Questions on Flood Assistance

Washington, DC – On Friday, April 9th, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) hosted a “tele-town hall” meeting with Rhode Islanders to answer questions about federal assistance for flood victims. Whitehouse was joined on the call by representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RI EMA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“From the very beginning of this disaster, I have been out touring damaged areas, assessing the magnitude of the damage, and keeping the White House briefed on the state of this disaster… It’s clear that this disaster is not one from which we will recover quickly, but I’m confident that we will pull through it,” Whitehouse told participants. “The purpose of the call tonight is two-fold: I want to make you aware of the various resources available to help with this disaster recovery, and I want to hear from you about what difficulties you may be having, and how we might help.”

Tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders in flood-damaged areas received a call on Friday inviting them to join the tele-town hall. Participants were then given the option to ask questions about flood assistance, which were answered by Whitehouse and other members of the panel. More than 23,000 Rhode Islanders participated in the call.

In all, Whitehouse took 10 different questions from callers throughout the state. One caller who owned a business in the flood-damaged Warwick Mall told Whitehouse about the damage to her store, which had been in business for 25 years. The payment counter and register were destroyed. The dry wall is rotting. Little if any of the merchandise or fixtures appear to be salvageable. Sadly, her flood insurance company has informed her that the damage is not covered, and she expressed concern that without some grant assistance from the government, she will not be able to reopen. With the Senate back in session this week, Whitehouse will be advocating for federal aid to help businesses and individuals throughout the state impacted by the floods.

The tele-town hall was one in a number of ways in which Whitehouse has been reaching out to flood victims to make sure they have the information they need. The Senator has also sent several statewide emails to constituents with updates on flood assistance and spoken with individuals face to face as he has toured flood-damaged areas throughout the state. These efforts will continue as Rhode Island rebuilds and recovers.

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

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