ORLANDO, Fla. -- Recovery officials in Florida have announced the closing of the two remaining State-FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs), located at Victoria Square , 1706 South Woodland Blvd. and 38521 Lakeview Drive in Lady Lake , at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 10, 2007.
The closures conclude one part of an intensive outreach effort by t he Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Florida 's State Emergency Response Team to provide an opportunity for residents in hard-hit disaster areas to talk directly with recovery specialists. Several Community Relations outreach teams are still canvassing door-to-door in neighborhoods to locate individuals and households with unmet needs.
The centers have seen a significant decline in visitors in the past week. After opening on Feb. 5-6, the two facilities have handled nearly 1,800 inquiries from area homeowners, renters and business owners. Center visitors can learn about available disaster assistance programs, check on individual applications or seek information about risk-reduction measures to lessen future loss.
Since the deadly tornadoes struck North Central Florida, more than 3,280 area residents have taken the opportunity to meet face-to-face with disaster recovery specialists from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), other government agencies and volunteer organizations.
Recovery officials urge anyone seeking answers to disaster-related questions or help with SBA loan applications and other forms to visit a center before final closing.
Disaster assistance continues through the helpline option at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or for the speech and-hearing impaired 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). Residents should call this resource to update their contact information or ask any recovery questions. Multilingual recovery information in several languages is available through the helpline. Helplines are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EST), Monday through Saturday. On the web, disaster information remains available 24 hours a day at www.fema.gov.
Applicants may register for assistance by calling the toll-free numbers or on the FEMA website.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.
FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to the SBA to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal rights. If suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603.