Walking the beat with FEMA

Published 12:37 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2016

By Dawn Burleigh



ORANGE — As citizens pick up the pieces from the recent disaster, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) teams walk door to door to make sure every flood victim receives assistance.

“We don’t want to miss anybody,” FEMA Public Information Officer Greg Hughes said. “Knocking on each door is one of several ways to reach flood survivors.”

The teams, in groups of two or three, will also ask residents about neighbors of houses of those not at home.

“We ask if they have damage from the flood, and help them register with FEMA,” Hughes said. “The registration number is important for all FEMA contact.”

It also gives concerned survivors a chance to ask questions, such as if they are eligible for assistance if they are renters.

According to Hughes, renters are eligible for aid for personal items and possibly emergency housing if they need to move out due to the damages the structure received.

FEMA Reservists are the ones on call for Disaster Recovery Work, such as walking block after block while knocking on each door. They leave home and careers to help provide assistance to the recovery process. FEMA Corp is an adjunct to FEMA works. Those in the corp are usually college age or recent college graduates, such as Austin Lerwick, FEMA Corp Team Leader.

“We will knock on each door,” Rick Centers of FEMA said. “If no one is home, we will leave a flyer. Right now with the MARC units, I will also leave the address for the MARC.”

Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) for Orange is open through Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. each day at “Old 15th St Administration Building”, 505 N 15th Street in Orange.

Several homeowners FEMA spoke with on Monday were already registered and waiting for the next step, an inspection.

A representative from FEMA will access the damages and speak with the homeowners.

“We spoke with one woman who said she did not get any water in her home,” Centers said. “However, when the water was under her trailer, it shorted out the entire electrical system.”

At the request of the state of Texas, FEMA has added Erath, Gregg, Harrison, Hood, Marion and Parker to the federal disaster declaration of March 19. They join the three counties already approved for both Individual Assistance and Public Assistance: Jasper, Newton and Orange.

Texans who suffered damage or losses as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding that began on March 7, are encouraged to apply for assistance. Disaster assistance for homeowners and renters may include grants to help pay for temporary housing and essential home repairs, as well as other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses.

Those who had flood or storm damage should register with FEMA even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but under-insured applicants may be eligible for help after their insurance claims have been settled.

Survivors can apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available for eligible survivors. SBA helps businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries.

For more information, survivors may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

The nine designated counties are also eligible for Public Assistance (Categories A and B). The Public Assistance program reimburses state and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations, such as school districts, 75 percent of disaster-related expenses to help Texas communities recover. The cost of debris removal and emergency protective services, such as police overtime for extra work caused from responding to the disaster, may be eligible for reimbursement.

For more information on Texas recovery, visit the disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4266Twitter athttps://www.twitter.com/femaregion6 and the Texas Division of Emergency Management website,https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem. Visit www.fema.gov/texas-disaster-mitigation for publications and reference material on rebuilding and repairing safer and stronger.


Dawn Burleigh/The Orange Leader

Dawn Burleigh/The Orange Leader