FEMA sees few from parish

Published 12:57 am Monday, November 24, 2008

VIDALIA — The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mobile disaster recovery center has been open for a week, but not that many people have gone through it.

“We’re not getting the numbers we were hoping to see,” disaster recovery Center Manager Hugh O’Neill said. “We were hoping to have more people come through.”

The center opened Monday with the goal of helping residents affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike in their recovery efforts.

Email newsletter signup

That help could include temporary housing assistance in the form of home repair and replacement funds or in the form of a low interest disaster relief loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Our goal is to try to help solve their problem,” O’Neill said.

The disaster recovery center is located in Bowie room of the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.

Those wishing to utilize the center should enter through the side door on the south side of the building.

Upon entering, citizens need to check in, and from there they will be directed to the application assistants who will determine what kind of assistance the citizen is eligible for based on a number of criteria.

“Everybody has a different problem — for some, it’s housing, for some, it’s with a small business,” O’Neill said.

Though residents are encouraged to register by phone or on the Internet ahead of time, a phone bank is available at the center for those who have not already registered with FEMA, and FEMA assistants can also help with personal registration for those who are uncomfortable registering themselves, O’Neill said.

The center will be closed Thanksgiving Day, but will be open every other day of the week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will close Nov. 29.

To register with FEMA online, go to www.fema.gov.

To register by phone, call 800-621-FEMA (3362).

Information to have ready when registering by phone or by Internet includes Social Security numbers, a phone number where FEMA can reach you, any applicable insurance information and bank account information to allow for the direct deposit of funds.