MERRILLVILLE, Ind. -- Federal and state disaster officials announced today that the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in Lake County will transition to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Outreach Centers (DLOCs) on Wednesday, Dec. 26. ?
The centers located at 839 Broadway in Gary and 5825 S. Sohl Ave. in Hammond will close on Dec. 21 and reopen Dec. 26 as DLOCs. ?A center will also open that day at 7820 Broadway in Merrillville.
The DLOCs will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., excluding Jan. 1, 2008.? The Merrillville center will close at 3 p.m. on Jan. 2 only.? All three DLOCs are scheduled to be open until Jan. 10.?
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and SBA officials opened the DRCs to provide face-to-face assistance and disaster information to individuals and business owners who suffered damage as a result of the Aug. 15-27 severe storms and flooding.
"At this stage of the recovery process, the emphasis is on addressing the long-term needs of residents," said IDHS Executive Director J. Eric Dietz. "We believe the transition of the DRC to an SBA office will better meet the current needs of Lake County residents."
SBA representatives at the DLOCs will continue to provide homeowners, renters and business owners with face-to-face service in completing their loan applications, answering questions about SBA's loan program and explaining how an SBA loan can help pay for their disaster losses. ?Anyone not able to visit one of the three DLOCs should call the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or TTY 1-800-877-8339 or visit www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.? Although the focus of the centers is to assist applicants with SBA programs, there will remain a FEMA presence at each center should an applicant have a question about his FEMA application.
After registering with FEMA many applicants will be issued an SBA loan application.?
"Completing and returning the SBA loan application is an integral step in the recovery process," said Federal Coordinating Officer Donald Keldsen.? "We want to stress that anyone who is referred to the SBA should submit that application, even those who are not interested in or do not think they will qualify for a loan."?
If an applicant is approved for the loan he is not obligated to take it.? By neglecting to fill out the application, residents may exclude themselves from additional assistance.
Any resident who had damage from the August storms should register for federal assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585.? Both lines are operational 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.? The helpline will be closed Dec. 24 and 25 as well as Jan. 1.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.