By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE — Two weeks after a flood devastated parts of the Valley, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency have opened a Disaster Recovery Center in the borough.
The center at the former CareerLink, 713 Bridge St., began operations Thursday to help residents and business owners recover from their losses. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
Liz Roll, a spokeswoman for FEMA, said the center will help residents from anywhere in the region.
“We’re here at a central location where people can come to talk to FEMA representatives about their situation,” she said. “If they’ve already filled out documents, we can check on their application and see what stage it’s in. Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration will also be available here to answer questions about low-interest-rate loans. We’ll also have counseling services here.”
As of early Thursday afternoon, seven families had visited the center.
Officials at FEMA have not yet broken down by county how many families have asked for assistance at its centers. Statewide, 21,122 families have visited Disaster Recovery Centers, as of Wednesday night.
“I think right now our opening a center here is not well known, which accounts for the light first-day turnout,” Roll said.
She added that FEMA is assessing the needs of other communities in Pennsylvania, and may open up to 20 Disaster Recovery Centers, as needed.
Roll said that families in need of assistance “don’t need to write anything down or bring photos of their washed-away residences. Pictures are helpful, but not necessary. We have inspectors that will take the application, look at the location and then visit the site.”
Officials say the center will be open as long as it is needed.
Disaster officials recommend that you register before visiting a Disaster Recovery Center so if you have any questions about the application process they can be answered face-to-face.
To register for assistance, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 or register at DisasterAssistance.gov; the screens will prompt you through the registration process. You can also apply by web-enabled device at m.fema.gov. For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service, call 1-800 621-3362.