Filipinos, other nationals can avail calamity aid while in US

By ALEX P. VIDAL/ PNS

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Good news to Filipinos and other visiting nationals who are victims of disasters and calamities while in the United States.

The State Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on July 24 that as long as they are in the United States at the time of the disaster and calamity legally, they may be eligible for disaster aid.

“We do not want any residents who might be eligible to miss out on valuable disaster assistance that could help them get back on their feet,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Karl. As quoted by a FEMA press statement. “If disaster-affected Missourians are in doubt, they should apply for assistance and FEMA will determine their eligibility. “

Philippine News Service (PNS) gathered that under the presidential declaration, disaster assistance is available to flood-affected residents and business owners in the counties of Andrew, Cass, Clark, Gentry, Greene, Holt, Johnson Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, Marion, Nodaway, Pike, Ralls, St. Charles, Stone, Taney, Vernon and Webster.

FEMA said applicants must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or qualified aliens to receive FEMA monetary assistance. Their legal status will not be jeopardized by applying for assistance. Qualified aliens include: individuals with Lawful Permanent Residency (holders of “green cards”); those with refugee or asylum status; those whose deportation has been withheld; those on parole in the U.S. for at least one year for humanitarian purposes; those with conditional entry; Cuban or Haitian entrants; and those with petitions for relief based on battery or extreme cruelty by a family member.

It added that assistance can be given as long as someone in a household is entitled to it, and no information will be gathered regarding the status of other household members. For example, a parent or guardian who is not eligible for assistance can still apply on behalf of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien. The guardian only certifies for the child; no information will be gathered on the adult’s status.

FEMA said undocumented immigrants from a household with no one eligible for FEMA financial assistance may still be eligible for programs run by state, local or voluntary agencies. They may also be eligible for short-term, non-cash aid from FEMA, such as disaster legal services and crisis counseling.

FEMA advised applicants with losses and damages as a result of the June flooding to register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. The toll-free lines are open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. They can also register online at www.fema.gov.

FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.