Gov. expands Katrina Victim Assistance Hotline

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced the state’s Hurricane Katrina Victim Assistance Hotline (800-843-6154) is offering a broader range of services and will be more available each day to the thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims who made their own way to Illinois, as well as the individuals, community organizations and local governments that have taken them in.

The hotline connects displaced victims to state services available to them, ranging from housing assistance to medical care to employment.

The American Red Cross estimates more than 6,000 victims displaced by Hurricane Katrina are living in Illinois with friends, family or in other temporary housing. Approximately 430 people traveled to Illinois on flights arranged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of Gulf Coast residents left their homes and found their own way to Illinois,” Blagojevich said. “While they are here, we will make every effort to connect them to resources and services—whether they need temporary housing, health care for their families, jobs, food or clothing. Our hotline will also help the many generous individuals and organizations who are trying to make sure evacuees in Illinois are getting the assistance and tools they need to rebuild their lives.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) is coordinating the hotline. Hotline hours of operation are being extending so victims can call any time between 9 a.m. and midnight, daily, to find out what services are available to them. Callers will have one-stop access to all of the State of Illinois’ resources for Katrina victims—from emergency food and shelter, to more long-term assistance like unemployment benefits and food stamps. Operators from the Department of Human Services will be able to connect callers to information about the following items:

Financial assistance available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross;

Help to evacuees who are looking for loved ones;

Enrolling children in preschool, K-12th grade, community colleges and public universities;

Energy Assistance that may be available through Illinois’ Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to hurricane evacuees placed in temporary or permanent housing;

Various health care programs offered by the state and federal governments that may be available to evacuees;

Temporary and permanent housing available through the states, FEMA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;

Employment available in Illinois and through the U.S. Department of Labor;

Change of address forms from the United States Postal Service;

Other state and federal services and programs including crisis counseling, unemployment, rehabilitation services, developmental disabilities, veterans benefits, seniors benefits, child care, and substance abuse; and

Caring for pets affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Blagojevich set up the toll-free number as a part of the state’s centralized effort to assist evacuees from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who come to Illinois. The number, 1-800-843-6154, began Sept. 2, and will stay in service as long as needed.

Displaced victims with access to the Internet can find more information about available services at Users can also find a link on the state Web site to the federal government’s services and assistance available to those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

From the Sept. 21-27, 2005, issue

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