St. Paul, MN -- To help meet the ongoing needs of Minnesota disaster victims, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Minnesota Division of Emergency Management (DEM) are opening Disaster Recovery Centers in the disaster--designated counties. The temporary centers provide a single location where disaster victims who have called the toll--free number, 1 800 462--9029, are able to talk face--to--face with recovery, restoration and rebuilding specialists.
Representatives from local, state and federal agencies, and some voluntary organizations, will staff the Disaster Recovery Centers. These centers are only open for a short time, so people are encouraged to stop in right away with their questions. Some of these representatives will only be available for a day or two. The opening dates and locations of the centers are:
Lower St. Croix Fire Department
1520 South St. Croix Trail
Thursday, May 24
Winona City Hall
East 4th Street & Lafayette
Thursday, May 24
National Guard Armory
885 East 7th Street
Tuesday, May 29
The Disaster Recovery Centers will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sign language interpreters will be available at each site.
At this time in the recovery process, people who suffered damage are beginning to think about putting their lives back together," James Roche, Federal Coordinating Officer, said. "Right now people want information about the status of their applications for assistance or help filling out their disaster loan application. They want to know what their options for rebuilding are, so they don't have to face the same disaster problems when tornadoes and flooding happen again.
"The recovery centers are community--oriented and they address ongoing needs of individuals from areas affected by the severe winter storms, tornadoes, and flooding. People have been forced to make major decisions in their lives and the centers will serve as resources to help them with those decisions," Kevin Leuer, State Coordinating Officer, said.
Some of the things people can accomplish at the centers include:
- Inquiring about the status of the application they have already made by phone;
- Referrals for temporary rental assistance resources;
- Assistance completing U.S. Small Business Administration low--interest loan applications for homeowners, renters or business owners;
- Examining options for repairing or rebuilding in floodplains;
- Learn common--sense measures to reduce the impact of future flooding or disaster losses;
- Receive information and detailed plans on how to construct a saferoom;
- Receive information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance;
- Receive state and federal disaster tax assistance;
- Receive information about the Individual and Family Grant Program;
- Receive referrals to American Red Cross and other voluntary organizations to help with immediate unmet needs
"These centers will be open for a limited time," Leuer said. "We encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about mitigation methods to minimize future damage, or to have questions answered about their application."
The first step in receiving state and federal assistance made available under the May 16th Presidential disaster declaration is to register by calling the toll--free FEMA application number,
1 800 462--9029. There is also a special number, TTY 1 800 462--7585, for the speech or hearing impaired. Both lines are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday....