The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened three Disaster Recovery Centers in Hidalgo County.
FEMA is responding to the June 19 flood that happened last month in the Rio Grande Valley. The three locations of recovery centers are in Mission, McAllen and Weslaco.
Representatives from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, FEMA, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), volunteer groups and other agencies will be available at the centers to answer any questions people may have about how to receive assistance.
The City of Mission, FEMA and SBA held a press briefing at the Mission location on Wed., and said that it was important that people who incurred damages to their property and possessions to utilize the facility.
“For the next few months, the City of Mission in conjunction with other municipalities will be using it [the Mission Social Event Center] to be able to assist the general public in Precinct 3 regarding the storm that hit us back in June,” Mission City Manager Martin Garza, Jr. said. “It’s important that we have a recovery center so people can actually talk face-to-face with individuals representing FEMA and the proper authorities to they can provide them with the proper information.”
FEMA Public Information Officer Robin Smith spoke about the steps people need to take in order to receive assistance from the agency. She said that these centers are the places to get any questions people have answered, and that if people receive letters from FEMA they may be difficult to read because of the vocabulary.
“Many people will end up with letters from FEMA,” Smith said. “This is the ideal place for anyone who gets one of those letters to come on down and bring the letter so they can sit with someone and ask them what it means or what you can do to move further.”
Cory Williams, from the SBA, spoke about the benefits of businesses reporting any damages to the Small Business Administration.
“We actually help out businesses, homeowners, renters and non-profits throughout the recovery period,” Williams said. “Recovery periods may vary, so we want to make sure as an agency we’re providing that working capital to sustain that business throughout the recovery period.”
City leaders from Mission, Alton, Palmview, Peñitas and Granjeno were in attendance at the conference, and thanked the City of Mission as well as FEMA and SBA for providing assistance in the aftermath of the storm.
Wednesday afternoon Mission held a public forum at the Mission Event Center so people could get more questions addressed and begin preparing to visit the recovery center.
The disaster declaration for Hidalgo County was made official July 6, so residents have until September 6 to apply for disaster assistance.
According to a FEMA news release, residents and business owners who sustained losses can “apply for assistance in person at one of the Disaster Recovery Centers, online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT. People can also download the FEMA app,
available at the Apple and Google Play stores.”
Those registering for assistance will need their Social Security number, address of the damaged primary residence, description of the damage, information about insurance coverage, a current contact telephone number, an address where they can receive mail and their annual gross household income. Also required is a bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds, identification and proof of occupancy, such as a lease, rent receipt, or utility bill, and homeowners will be asked for proof of ownership, such as a property deed or title, mortgage payment book, property insurance policy, or tax receipts.