OWATONNA, Minn. -- The joint FEMA/State Disaster Recovery Centers operating in Austin and Albert Lea will permanently close at 5 p.m. Saturday, October 30, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will open a Loan Assistance Center in Austin beginning Monday, November 1.
"The Disaster Recovery Centers will be closing in a few days but that doesn't put an end to getting assistance," Thomas J. Costello, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinating officer, said. "Calling FEMA's toll-free application number will still allow those who qualify to receive help."
Those affected by September's severe storms and flooding who still have questions about FEMA assistance can call the toll-free application line - 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or, for the hearing or speech impaired, 1-800-462-7585. Both lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until further notice. Disaster recovery information and online registration is also available at www.fema.gov. Those with questions about low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses are encouraged to visit the Disaster Recovery Centers through Saturday and then, beginning Monday, November 1, the SBA Loan Assistance Center in Austin.
Disaster Recovery Center locations and hours:
- Albert Lea: Health Reach, 1705 S.E. Broadway Ave.
- Austin: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 2100 16th St. SW
Open Mon. - Fri.: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat.: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Closing permanently Saturday, October 30 at 5 pm.
"At this stage of the recovery process, the emphasis for assistance is to meet the long-term needs of those who suffered damage from the flooding," Al Bataglia, state coordinating officer, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), said.
To assist victims with the application process, the SBA will have loan officers available at the temporary Loan Assistance Center located at:
- St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 2100 16th St. SW, Austin.
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., starting Monday, November 1, until further notice
Amost 500 homeowners, renters, and business owners have visited one of the Disaster Recovery Centers operating in the affected areas. The temporary centers were established to provide detailed program information to those who have already applied for assistance. Disaster recovery specialists staff the centers to answer questions and provide information on recovery, restoration and rebuilding. Even those who have not suffered damages from this disaster may visit a center to receive information on ways to reduce potential future disaster damages.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.