FEMA updates resources for storm victims

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OKLAHOMA CITY– When sifting through debris after a natural disaster, there are a few things that can be confusing. FEMA officials want to clear those lingering questions.

First, survivors who are approved to receive disaster assistance funds don’t have to wait for a check to come in the mail.

People who have bank accounts can choose to have the funds deposited electronically, but it may require one more step when registering.

Specialists are available at disaster recovery centers to help victims with electronic funds transfer and other steps in the process of filing claims.

Disaster assistance often covers more types of damage than insurance pays. Individuals affected by the May 18-June 2 severe storms, flooding and tornadoes are urged to apply for FEMA assistance even if they have insurance. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate items that insurance already covers. But we may be able to help with some disaster-related expenses, up to program limits.

For homeowners, renters and business owners in the six designated counties (Canadian, Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties) help is a phone call, mouse click or smartphone screen tap away. To register, find disaster recovery center locations, update personal contact information, call 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585), go online at DisasterAssistance.gov, or type in m.fema.gov on a smartphone. The toll-free numbers remain open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

OEM and FEMA currently have six Disaster Recovery Centers DRCs, including newly opened sites in Midwest City and El Reno. For business owners, The U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a Business Recovery Center in Moore. Specialists from OEM, FEMA and the SBA are at the DRCs to answer questions and help survivors.

Hazard Mitigation advisors are in the centers to offer brochures and discuss ways to rebuild safer and stronger with interested homeowners. To date, 4,655 people have visited the centers:

• Eastside Church of Christ, 916 South Douglas Blvd., Midwest City Hours: 8 a.m.—8 p.m. Mon.-Sun.
• Jenks Simmons Fieldhouse, 214 North Country Club Road, El Reno Hours: 8 a.m.—8 p.m. Mon.-Sun
• Little Axe Elementary School, 2000, 168th Ave. NE, Norman, Hours: 9 a.m.—7 p.m. Mon.-Sun.
• Carney High School, 204 South Carney St., Carney, Hours: 8 a.m.—7 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. through June 16. NOTE: The Carney center permanently closes 7 p.m. Wed., June 19th.
• Westmoore High School, 12613 South Western Ave., Oklahoma City Hours: 8 a.m.—8 p.m. Mon.-Sun.
• Gordon Cooper Technology Center, One John C. Bruton Blvd., Shawnee Hours: 8 a.m.—8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun.
• Business Recovery Center: Moore Norman Technology Center, 13301 South Pennsylvania Ave., Oklahoma City Hours: 9 a.m.—6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.—1 p.m. Sat.

Other recovery centers may open as suitable sites are identified, and some centers may periodically adjust their hours to match visitor demand. Disaster survivors can visit any of the disaster recovery centers, not just the one nearest their home. For updated information on locations and hours go to: http://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/.

There is no charge to apply for disaster assistance, including completing an SBA loan application.

Renters are also eligible for state and federal disaster assistance.

If you can’t make it to a center, you can also call FEMA for help at 800-621-3362.

The Oklahoma Emergency Management and FEMA report that last month’s storms impacted 3,937 homes, businesses and non-residential buildings in five counties.

Of those, 1,248 were destroyed, 452 suffered major damage and 640 sustained minor damage.

So far, FEMA has approved more than $5 million for assistance and over 9,000 people have registered for help.