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FEMA launches new mobile site

By Ed O'Keefe

A tornado rips through your neighborhood and destroys your house. Or maybe a hurricane floods it. Chances are you're unable to sit down at your computer to file claims for federal disaster assistance, right?

That's the main reason the Federal Emergency Management Agency relaunched its mobile Web site on Monday, giving Americans the opportunity to register for assistance using a mobile smartphone.

"We know that in disasters oftentimes it's much easier for you to take your handheld or electronic smartphone-type device and get information," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says in the how-to video above. "Now we want to make sure that you can register for assistance in a disaster." (Notice the big Florida Gators blanket hanging over his office chair and that he uses three mobile devices during the video: A Blackberry, iPhone and Droid. The Obama administration is super-sensitive about avoiding charges of smartphone favoritism.)

"Our goal in the end is that you'd be able to access the information, register for assistance, do the follow up and all the things you'd do normally with a computer available on your smart phone," Fugate said in a separate interview on Friday. "As long as you have connectivity with your phoneÂ…."

And connectivity shouldn't be a big concern anymore, because the telecommunications industry is much more cognizant of the need to reestablish their networks quickly after a disaster, Fugate said.

"After the Haiti earthquake, we saw something similar," he said. "A devastating quake in an area already with poor infrastructure, the private sector had cell service up pretty quickly."

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By Ed O'Keefe  | July 19, 2010; 2:11 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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