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NYC Officials Kick Off National Preparedness Month; FEMA Offers Tips For Disaster Assistance

Justin Mudge walks through the muddy interior of his great uncle's gun shop which was destroyed by flooding caused by Hurricane Irene on September 1, 2011 in Prattsville, NY.  (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)

Justin Mudge walks through the muddy interior of his great uncle’s gun shop which was destroyed by flooding caused by Hurricane Irene on September 1, 2011 in Prattsville, NY. (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – As families across the Tri-State continue to clean up from storm damage caused by Irene, officials in New York City are kicking off “National Preparedness Month” by urging residents to plan ahead for catastrophe.

LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell reports


Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate joined New York City officials in Times Square on Thursday.

He said families need to create backup communication plans in the event of an emergency. Fugate said his own family used Facebook to communicate during the earthquake that rattled Washington, D.C. two weeks ago.

Joseph Bruno, commissioner of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, says more than 150 city businesses, including New York University and the New York Mets, have signed up for the new Partners in Preparedness program.

Bruno is asking New Yorkers to register for Notify NYC, the city’s free emergency notification system.

For more information about “National Preparedness Month,” click here.

In the wake of Irene, many are wondering how they can apply for federal aid.

In order to be eligible for federal help, you need to live in a county that’s been given a disaster declaration.

To see if your county is included in the FEMA 2011 Federal Disaster Declaration, click here.

Then you need to apply by phone or online.

Fugate says they hope to have homes inspected within three or four days.

“We look at the damage and what we’re looking for is uninsured losses and impacts and then we make a determination based upon what you may be eligible for,” he said.

To listen to Peter Haskell’s full interview with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, click here.

Fugate stresses this is not insurance and it won’t pay for your lawsuits.

“I want everybody to know FEMA programs won’t make you whole.”

The goal is to get you back on your feet and get a roof over your head.

For more information, visit www.fema.gov or call (800) 621-3362.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)