Sept 2 —
By SARA MOSQUEDA-FERNANDEZ HARRISBURG — PEMA urges Pennsylvania residents to report any Irene-caused damage to their local officials.
"It's very important for residents to quickly file damage reports with their local governments," said Glenn Cannon, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency director.
Residents who sustained damage to their homes or businesses because of Hurricane Irene should report it to local municipal officials as soon as possible.
"Teams of local, county, state and federal staffers are busy doing preliminary damage assessments, but it's not possible for them to inspect every damaged property so we need the public's help," said Cannon.
Each municipality is responsible for collecting damage reports from residents and reporting them to counties for submission to PEMA. The agency compiles the totals and forwards them to federal officials to be considered as part of the state's request for a federal disaster declaration.
"Even if you have insurance and don't anticipate asking for federal assistance, we are all part of the same team in working to give the federal government an accurate picture of the damage we sustained in this storm," Cannon said. "Should we get a disaster declaration that includes financial aid for homeowners and renters, we'll then issue instructions on how people can sign up for assistance."
At this point in the process, reporting damage to local officials is only for recording and filing purposes, and is not a way to register for services or funding.
Gov. Tom Corbett has declared September as "National Preparedness Month" in Pennsylvania, asking residents and families to take steps to prepare for all types of emergencies.
To find contact information for your township, borough or city, look in the government section (the Blue Pages) of your local telephone directory or search online.
Residents are also encouraged to visit www.ReadyPA.org , a state resource that encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency or natural disaster:
Be informed — know what threats the state and your community face.
Be prepared — have an emergency kit with at least three days' worth of essentials at your home, including food, one gallon of water per person per day, medications and specialized items like baby or pet supplies. Make an emergency plan so family members know where to meet if everyone is separated when an incident occurs.
Be involved — specialized training and volunteer opportunities are available so citizens can help others in their community in case of a disaster.
Information, including checklists for emergency kits and templates for emergency plans, along with other information and volunteer opportunities, is available at www.ReadyPA.org or by calling 888-9-READYPA (888-973-2397)