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March 13, 2012

Business at hand: FEMA, DHS offer details on volunteering, assistance

Officials urge residents to register for storm recovery assistance

SELLERSBURG — Homeowners, renters and businesses can get federal assistance as the Federal Emergency Management Agency has mobilized staff, including inspectors, to the area.

The first step for those seeking assistance for storm recovery is to register by calling 800-621-FEMA or logging on to disasterassistance.gov.

“So far we’ve had about 350 people that have registered,” said Greg Eaton, coordinating officer for FEMA. Those registering will need to provide a phone number, address of the damaged home, the place they’re staying, their Social Security number and more.

Within a couple of days those who register will get a phone call from an inspector, who will schedule a visit.

“They’ll go through and detail the damage. Property owners should receive a check to their bank account, that you designate within seven to 10 days.”

He cautioned to avoid scammers. The inspectors will have an identification card, they will call and make an appointment and they will not ask for any personal information or banking information. Eaton said that’s done in the application process, which is a phone call that the applicant initiates.

“Our inspectors won’t ask for anything. There’s no fee to file or register with our agency.”

Further, he said, there is no such thing as a FEMA-approved contractor.

Finally, Gov. Mitch Daniels submitted a request for disaster food stamps with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Saturday.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll have approval to move forward with that mid-week,” said Robert D. Wynkoop, commissioner for the Indiana Department of Administration.

The details were among the information shared by authorities during a press conference at Ivy Tech Community College Southern Indiana campus in Sellersburg on Monday. The new conference took place about 10 days after two tornadoes ripped through northern Clark County.

 

CLEAN UP

Since the storm hit March 2, more than 1,000 truck loads of debris have been carried out of the area to landfills, said Michial Compton, with Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s District No. 2 incident management team.

A lot of that clean up was aided by the more than 5,000 volunteers that have been in the area. Further, more than 350 emergency responders have been in the county as well.

“They’re doing a great job,” Compton said. “The folks of these fine towns are still hurting.”

Henryville, Marysville, Borden and Daisy Hill were among Clark County communities that were hit by the storm. There was also devastation in Jefferson, Ripley, Scott, Warrick and Washington counties.

“We need volunteers and will continue to need volunteers for many months to come,'” said Arvin Copeland, director of response and recovery for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “We’re asking that volunteers register with local efforts so that they can be coordinated.”

Those wishing to volunteer can register with Metro United Way online at metrounitedway.org or at 723 Spring St. in Jeffersonville or at 3002 Murphy Road in Henryville.

 

ONE-STOP SHOP

In the last week representatives from Indiana Department of Family and Social Services, the Department of Insurance, Housing and Community Development, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Work Force Development  have been in the area assisting on a number of fronts as a part of the state’s One-Stop Shop relief center program set up at the college.

State offices have been assisting on everything from helping replace drivers licenses and vehicle registration to help with replacement food stamps and answering questions about insurance.

“As of Sunday, we had connections with over 700 people,” Wynkoop said.

The shop remains open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,  seven days per week in the Ogle Center on the Ivy Tech campus in Sellersburg.

 

BUSINESSES

Business owners can seek loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Applications for those loans are available at the one-stop shop at Ivy Tech in Sellersburg, as well. Up to $200,000 can be loaned for real property claims, $40,000 can be borrowed for personal property claims.

Eaton said the interest rates were low but did not have a specific percentage.

 

FEMA

Today state homeland security and FEMA officials will begin damage surveys related to public assistance. If granted, it could make money eligible for governmental entities to provide funding for damaged roadways, buildings and debris removal.

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Judy Lunsford works on a lesson plan for her students with fellow teachers, Ellen Rothstein and Adam Stephens, in her classroom at Northaven Elementary in Jeffersonville Wednesday afternoon. Lunsford, a new addition to Northaven, will be teaching second grade.

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