FEMA agent will meet with public

Published 12:04 am Thursday, June 2, 2011

NATCHEZ — While the Natchez bluffs have lifted most Adams County residents out of the Mississippi River’s flood danger zone, at least a handful of individuals have been displaced.

Those who think they might have a flood damage claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency can find out for sure Friday at Saturday.

A FEMA agent will be on hand to answer questions about claims from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the City Council Chambers at 115 Pearl St.

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Cleo Howell, a FEMA public information officer based in Adams County, said the FEMA representative at Friday and Saturday’s help sessions will be an individual assistance specialist.

If Adams County qualifies, FEMA assistance for governmental, nonprofit and public agencies will arrive later.

Those interesting in meet with a FEMA agent Friday or Saturday should bring flood insurance policies if applicable and some form of proof of residency, and residents who have already registered with FEMA should bring the nine-digit number given to them during registration.

Howell said he recommends those who attend be already registered before working one-on-one with the FEMA agent, but it is not required.

The deadline to register for claims is July 11, which is 60 days from when President Obama declared the county a disaster area.

“I highly encourage people to apply much sooner than the last minute,” Howell said.

Howell said if residents miss the opportunity to meet with an agent Friday or Saturday, the closest Disaster Recovery Centers are in Port Gibson and Woodville.

“And they’re always welcome to call the toll free as help line or visit any of the websites,” he said.

Those affected by flood damage can register with FEMA by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

Howell said FEMA, at this point, is focusing its efforts on individual assistance, but businesses can apply for low interest loans from the Small Business Administration.

Most interest rates are below 3 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition, a FEMA press release said.

Survivors who receive SBA disaster home loan applications should submit them as soon as possible to receive consideration for a loan or referral to FEMA for grant assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair and moving and storage expenses.

Howell said residents who get rejected when applying for an SBA loan should save their application because it can be a segway to get FEMA assistance.

“If (residents) throw (the application away it) stops any further assistance,” Howell said.

In other flood news, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced Wednesday restrictions for heavy truck and farm equipment traffic on Louisiana 3196 and a portion of Louisiana 15 atop the levee system in Concordia Parish has been lifted.

The portion of Louisiana 15 from its intersection with Louisiana 131 to its intersection with Louisiana 565 remains closed to all traffic.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has also opened some of its flood-time road closures.

In Warren and Claiborne counties, a 4.1-mile stretch of U.S. 61 south of Vicksburg at the Big Black River Opening will open 10 a.m. Friday.

Mississippi 24 in Wilkinson County near Fort Adams opened Wednesday

A 10-mile stretch of Mississippi 456 in Warren and Issaquena County between U.S. 61 and Eagle Lake should be open by mid to late June.

Due to flooding on U.S. 61 in Claiborne County, sectors 1, 2-A and 2-B will use Mississippi 462 and Mississippi 27.

Thirteen days after the river’s crest at 61.9 feet, the river stood Wednesday at 58.45 feet.