FEMA opens Disaster Recovery Center for Beaufort County

Published 7:52 pm Thursday, September 27, 2018

For the past several weeks, those impacted by Hurricane Florence have been given some important phone numbers to call. From the Beaufort County Disaster Relief Hotline at 252-496-6040 to numbers to file claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration, many Beaufort County residents have already started the process of disaster recovery over the phone.

Now, they have the option to continue that process face to face, in person.

On Thursday, FEMA and the SBA established a Disaster Recovery Center at Bobby Andrews Recreation Center, located at 231 E. Seventh St. in Washington. The center will operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.

While FEMA and SBA focus on aspects of recovery such as financial aid and temporary housing, representatives from disaster relief organizations such as The Salvation Army and Virginia Baptist Disaster Response are also on hand to help connect survivors with other forms of relief.

“It’s sort of a one-stop shop to bring a lot of partners into one place,” Beaufort County Emergency Services Specialist Lisa Williams said. “The call center has been wonderful, because that was something we could get up immediately. … The call center was virtually what this center will be in a physical sense.”

While the Disaster Relief hotline will continue to be an important resource in the weeks to come, so too will the FEMA resources available at 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) and via www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

If there’s one message Emergency Services is stressing this week, it is for people to go ahead and register with FEMA. Although it may take months for financial assistance to arrive for individuals and businesses, applying for FEMA assistance is a critical step for anyone affected by Florence.

“I have heard in the last three or four days that it is, ‘a waste of time’ and ‘you don’t get anything,’” Williams said. “Well, you may not get any immediate assistance, it’s just like the DRC. FEMA may not be able to open a checkbook and write you a check, but the more people who register and document whatever damages they have, whether major or minor, that’s what gives us the snapshot of what we have in our county, and that snapshot is what leads in the future to recovery funds.”

Williams also reiterated that being denied by FEMA can also be the first step to applying for other forms of assistance, such as programs through the SBA.

When registering with FEMA, the following information is helpful:

  • Address of the location where the damage occurred (pre-disaster address)
  • Current mailing address
  • Current telephone number
  • Insurance information.
  • Total household annual income.
  • Routing and account number for checking or savings account (this allows direct transfer of funds into a bank account).
  • A description of disaster-caused damage and losses.

The center established at the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center is accessible to people with disabilities. Centers have assistive technology equipment allowing disaster survivors to use amplified telephones, phones that display text, amplified listening devices for people with hearing loss and magnifiers for people with vision loss. Video Remote Interpreting is available and in-person sign language is available by request. The centers also have accessible parking, ramps and restrooms.