As of November 8, over 750,000 million people remain without power following Hurricane Sandy and the nor'easter that blew through the region on November 7th. Even for those who regained their power, extensive property damage, gas shortages, and numerous travel difficulties still plague the tri-state region. However, resources and assistance are available to those still struggling in the aftermath of the storm.

Assistance Through FEMA
Individual Assistance through FEMA is available in New Jersey, the Bronx, Queens, New York, Kings, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties for residents who experienced sustained losses beginning on October 27. Assistance offered includes temporary housing, home repairs, and loans to cover uninsured property losses. Before residents can apply for assistance, they will need to register at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. If access to a computer is restricted, residents can contact FEMA directly by calling 800-621-FEMA. Having a list of sustained property damage, a social security number, the name of the resident's insurance company, and address at the time of the hurricane is recommended. A property inspection will follow and then a letter from FEMA will be sent regarding the status of the claim.

Find Help After Sandy
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Housing opportunities, shelters, and Red Cross locations
In the meantime, residents can seek shelter at warming centers, and overnight shelters in New York City, Huntington, Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau counties. Calling 311 will give New York residents the closest address to a shelter and means of transportation to get there. New Jersey's own information hotline can be reached at (973) 733-4311 to find additional shelters. Both New York and New Jersey residents can visit http://www.redcross.org/find-help/shelter for the closest Red Cross shelter. Additional shelters can be located at http://google.org/crisismap/2012-sandy. Furthermore, New York as well as New Jersey residents may also be eligible to participate in the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which allows survivors who cannot return to their homes to stay in participating hotels until other housing accommodations become available. A list of eligible hotels for the program can be found at http://www.femaevachotels.com/.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Employment
Disaster Unemployment Assistance is also available for survivors who lost their jobs or are unable to work as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Situations that allow a person to collect assistance include but are not limited to: lack of transportation, workplace damage that prevents a person from working, planning to work but became unable to because of the hurricane, or became injured and unable to work because of the storm. Applying as quickly as possible is strongly recommended and eligible residents can submit a claim to the Department of Labor. Department of Labor employees will be deployed to particularly hard hit areas so affected residents who have no means of travel can apply directly. The Telephone Claims Center is also accepting calls for those wishing to submit an application and can be contacted at 1-888-209-8124 or 1-877-358-5306 for out of state residents. Applications for assistance will be accepted until December 3.

SNAP benefits and Nutrition Resources
New York recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as Food Stamps, may receive 50 percent of their SNAP benefit if they resided in the hardest hit areas and have lost food during the course of the disaster. Residents in Staten Island, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, and Westchester counties will automatically receive benefit reimbursement. Other areas that are eligible for the replacement can be found at http://otda.ny.gov/news/SNAP-replacements.pdf. Extensions of one month for SNAP benefits are also available for households that would have otherwise seen their benefits expire in either October or November. Additionally, SNAP recipients will also be able to purchase hot food with their benefits in order to offset the likelihood of loss of power and inability to access cooking facilities. New Jersey recipients of SNAP in Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties will receive a 25 percent reimbursement and applications regarding extension of benefits or requests for additional funds will be accepted until November 28th.

Additional Contact Information
Additional assistance programs may become available, so New Jersey and New York residents are recommended to visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov on a periodic basis. New Jersey residents can also make inquiries at their information hotline which can be reached by dialing (973) 733-4311 and at 311 for New York residents. Further information can be accessed by visiting the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management homepage at http://www.ready.nj.gov/ and Governor Andrew Cuomo's homepage at http://www.governor.ny.gov/.

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