A disaster recovery center (DRC) has been set up at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. As things like disaster recovery assistance can get confusing, the Weekly Citizen went inside the DRC to give you a step-by-step on available services.
The DRC is able to assist residents with registration, scanning and faxing items to FEMA, applications and appeals, inspection checks to see when an inspector will be available, crisis counseling, SBA loans, HUD (for individuals in government housing or who receive Section 8), legal services and mitigation specialists who provide information and answer rebuilding questions.
It is important to note that FEMA does not assist with business losses or vacation homes. FEMA is for your primary personal residence only; SBA loans are available for the other needs.
Application specialists also note that residents who were affected by the March floods should be extra cautious with their documentation, as "double-dipping" is a federal offense. For example, if a resident suffered flooring damage in March, replaced the floors, and suffered new damages in August, the resident must show proof that the newly damaged floors are indeed different than the floors in March. Such documentation as photos of the flooring or contractor's receipts will help.
Any minor item can hold up your application, so application specialists recommend residents ensure names and addresses are correct. The most common error occurs with residents who live in apartments or trailer homes - it is important to include your lot number or FEMA's computers will consider your address a duplicate and your application will be held. Residents should also document losses - this means keeping every receipt - even those for tools used in cleaning and rebuilding, and taking photos of everything. Application specialists also noted that if you require or would like someone to be able to speak on the claim, you should put them down as an authorized person on your application. Claiming a person as a dependent does not give FEMA the permission to discuss your claim with them.
STEP 1: Residents who wish to apply for FEMA are advised to start the process online or by telephone. However, if the resident has not pre-registered, an application specialist will assist with registration.
STEP 2: After registering, a FEMA agent will assist the resident with completing an application.
STEP 3: Before FEMA can be used for assistance, an agent will help the resident determine their needs. The agent will verify if you have any type of home insurance; if you do, you must file a claim with your insurer, even if it will be denied. The next step is to determine if you qualify for an SBA loan. If all else fails, FEMA will assist. FEMA will also make up the difference in your insurance claim if your insurance adjuster and FEMA inspector agree to a certain loss figure that insurance doesn't totally cover.
To register, go online to DisasterAssistance.gov or call the FEMA helpline at (800) 621-3362. Help is available in most languages and phone lines are open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. Disaster survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call (800) 462-7585 to register. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service or require accommodations while visiting a center may call (800) 621-3362. All disaster recovery centers are accessible and equipped with tools to accommodate disaster survivors who need disability-related communication aids. Each disaster recovery center has assistive technologies for people with disabilities. To arrange to have an ASL interpreter at the DRC when you visit, call (225) 382-1739.
Representatives from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), volunteer groups and other agencies are at the center to answer questions about disaster assistance and low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses. They can also help survivors apply for federal disaster assistance.
Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams are canvassing many affected areas, and are able to register people for FEMA assistance if needed. Sometimes these teams will remain in certain locations convenient to the community, such as a library or mayor’s office. When residents require further assistance the teams may refer them to a disaster recovery center nearby.
It is not necessary to visit a center to register for and receive federal disaster assistance. If possible, survivors should register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center.
Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are available for businesses of all sizes including landlords, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries.