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MIDDLETOWN, NJ - The following information pertains to the Transitional Housing Assistance (THA) program that is available to displaced victims of Hurricane Sandy.
THA falls under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It allows eligible evacuees from Hurricane Sandy, who cannot return to their homes, to stay in hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available.
This federal assistance is intended to provide a place to stay for a longer period of time for evacuees whose neighborhoods are not accessible or whose houses have been destroyed. The initial period of assistance is from Nov. 1, 2012 to Nov. 14, 2012, with a Nov. 15 checkout.
A decision regarding extending the initial assistance period beyond Nov. 14, 2012 has not been made at this time.
Once again, the contact info regarding Transitional Housing Assistance (THA) is as follows:
Register by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with hearing or speech impairments. Specialists are standing by at the toll-free numbers seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, until further notice. Help in languages other than English is available. Or you can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov You can also apply through a web-enabled mobile device or smartphone by visiting http://m.fema.gov and go to the disasterassistance.gov link and then follow the link to “apply online for federal assistance.”
Eligible evacuees must fit the following criteria:
1. FEMA must be able to verify the identity of the evacuee;
2. The primary residence of the evacuee must be in one of the counties that has been designated a disaster area; and
3. The primary residence is inaccessible or unlivable due to damage or lack of power.
In addition to THA-related information, Governor Christie sent out information on Wednesday afternoon regarding services that residents may access through New Jersey’s Departments of Health and Human Services.
The Department of Health has public health experts available through the state’s 2-1-1 system to answer questions about food and water safety and mold removal to assist New Jersey residents as they cleanup their homes and businesses after Hurricane Sandy.
Health experts can answer questions about personal health and safety concerns; cleaning and mold removal; carbon monoxide concerns and food and drinking water safety. Residents can call 2-1-1 or 1-866-234-0964 to reach Public Health officials, who are available to take calls 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 5 pm on weekends. The 2-1-1 human services hotline is open 24/7.
There are also resources available to help residents cope with the stress during this challenging time. The New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services – Disaster and Terrorism Branch is coordinating statewide efforts to help individuals and communities manage the emotional impact of the storm.
The Disaster and Terrorism Branch partners with the Mental Health Association in New Jersey to offer assistance through a toll-free Disaster Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-294-HELP (4357). A TTY line is available for persons who are deaf and hearing impaired at 1-877-294-4356. The federal government also has a Disaster Distress website and provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support resources available at 1-800-985-5990 or Text TalkWithUS to 66746. The federal Helpline is staffed by trained counselors from a network of crisis call centers located across the United States, all of whom provide crisis counseling for those who are in emotional distress.
While resources that are offered through NJ 2-1-1 vary from community-to-community, call specialists will provide information and referral services to callers about a variety of concerns, including: food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency or homeless shelters, rental assistance and utility assistance.
The call center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is staffed with over 50 referral specialists trained to guide callers to the most appropriate services in their area. Particularly in times of disaster, 2-1-1 plays a vital role in keeping residents connected to factual, up-to-date information. NJ 2-1-1 does not process applications or provide funding or benefits.