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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 3, 2008

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Omaha-area Storm Victims May Be Eligible for Disaster Food Stamp Assistance - Applications Will Be Accepted Starting July 7

Lincoln – Additional Disaster Food Stamp Program assistance is available for victims of the Friday, June 27, storm that damaged homes and left thousands in the Omaha area without electricity. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) officials say that people directly affected by the June 27 storm may qualify for Disaster Food Stamp Assistance.

"Many people in the Omaha area were without electricity for days," said Todd Landry, Director of DHHS’ Division of Children and Family Services. "Food spoils quickly without proper refrigeration so some people may need help with replenishing their food supply."

DHHS is already accepting Disaster Food Stamp Assistance applications at five disaster relief centers (DRC) set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because of earlier storms. Those centers are located in Lexington, Kearney, Schuyler, Ceresco and Omaha and are for people who live or work in the 13 counties* previously declared as disaster areas.

For the June 27 th storm in the Omaha area, DHHS is opening several additional centers to help process disaster food stamp assistance applications: the DHHS Office at 12001 Q St.; Our Lady of Guadalupe Hall, 5005 S 23 rd St.; the Paralyzed Veterans of America Office, 7612 Maple St.; and the Family Resource Center, 3040 Lake St. All of these locations will be open Monday through Saturday starting Monday, July 7. The Paralyzed Veterans of America Office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. All other locations will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Some people who apply already receive food stamp benefits and need to get their spoiled food replaced, and some have never received food stamps before but need assistance now to help them recover from the storm.

Disaster Food Stamp Assistance has special rules to follow and some income guidelines apply. For example, in order to get Disaster Food Stamp Assistance, you have to either live or work in one of the disaster-declared counties * and you have to answer "yes" to at least one of the following questions:

  • Has your home or self-employment property been damaged or destroyed by the disaster?
  • Does your household have any other disaster-caused expenses?
  • Has your income been delayed, reduced or stopped because of the disaster?
  • Does your household have any cash or money in a bank account which you cannot get to because of the disaster?

Under this special disaster program, there is a limit of one month’s assistance. After that one month allotment, applicants wishing to continue food stamp benefits must apply for "regular" food stamps at their local DHHS office and meet the income and eligibility requirements for the regular food stamp program.

Applicants must bring documents to prove their identities (e.g. driver’s license, wage stub, birth certificate) and where they live (e.g. rent or mortgage receipt, post office records, utility bills, driver’s license). Disaster Food Stamp Assistance applications will be audited after the event. People who get benefits they are not entitled to will be required to pay them back.

For more information about the Disaster Food Stamp Assistance for the Omaha area, contact DHHS at (402) 595-3400. Additional disaster information is also available on-line at www.dhhs.ne.gov. Look under Hot Topics for " Resources for Coping with Tornadoes and Severe Storms."

*Presidential disaster-declared counties include: Buffalo, Butler, Colfax, Dawson, Douglas, Gage, Hamilton, Jefferson, Kearney, Platte, Richardson, Sarpy and Saunders counties.

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