SOURCE: Operation HOPE, Inc.

November 07, 2007 21:28 ET

Operation HOPE Responds to Gov. Schwarzenegger's Call to Assist Southern California Wildfire Victims

HOPE Disaster Assistance Call Center Activated to Help Those in Need of Emergency Financial Strategies and Guidance

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - November 7, 2007) - Answering Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's call to help individuals still impacted by last month's California wildfires, financial literacy nonprofit Operation HOPE (HOPE) has activated the HOPE Disaster Assistance Hotline -- 888-388-HOPE (4673) -- to aid those seeking ongoing financial guidance. Managed by HOPE Coalition America (HCA) a toll-free hotline with dedicated employees and volunteers is now currently available from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (PST) weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (PST) on Saturdays.

"HCA is part of a strong network of first responders to disasters in the United States who address immediate health, safety, and infrastructure needs. We will work to provide second-step recovery to Californians who need our assistance to rebuild their homes and lives," said Fred Smith, managing director of the preparedness and recovery division of Operation HOPE.

Collaborating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disasters (NVOAD), the California Service Corporation, and H&R Block, Operation HOPE will open a call center in Colton, California where 20 trained Block employees will receive calls and coordinate one-on-one assistance. Issues surrounding when a house should be rebuilt, the actual reconstruction process, or the handling of financial matters with unsalvageable or destroyed birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, and tax returns are just some of the areas where callers can get the answers they need.

"Providing 'economic triage' is what's needed when people face the results of a catastrophe. At the core of their concerns are financial issues and decisions and we are committed to providing strategies and guidance in financial matters to every person affected by these fires to get them back on their feet as soon as possible," said Operation HOPE, Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant.

HCA free financial services include:

--  Emergency Recovery Budget Guidance
--  Obtaining Copies of Personal and Financial Documents
--  When Should You Rebuild
--  Assistance Working with Your Creditors
--  Referrals to Government and Private Assistance Agencies
--  Insurance Claims Assistance, Mortgage Payments, etc...
    

Governor Schwarzenegger also announced the U.S. Department of Labor approved California's request for a $50 million grant that will help hire over 3,000 workers in temporary disaster assistance jobs in the areas affected by the wildfires. The Governor also directed the Small Business Disaster Assistance Loan Guarantee Program to be activated to guarantee $7 million in loans for farms, agriculture-related businesses and businesses in communities that suffered damage or significant economic loss as a result of the southern California wildfires.

Operation HOPE employees and volunteers will also visit California Disaster Assistance One-Stop Centers, American Red Cross Centers and FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers to ensure individuals are aware of our free recovery services. Through the distribution of our services flyer, individuals needing assistance are encouraged to call 888-388-HOPE (4673).

HOPE Coalition America is the national emergency preparedness and assistance division of Operation HOPE, Inc., America's leading provider of economic empowerment tools and services. It provides financial and economic guidance and information to individuals and small businesses affected by emergencies and disasters. HCA boasts two principal products: the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) is a document which aids people to create detailed listings of their important personal and financial information; and the companion document, the Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide (PDPG) guides you through the survival and recovery steps. The documents are available as a free download from our website www.operationhope.org.

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