Disaster Recovery Center to open in Whitesboro

By WKTV News

WHITESBORO, N.Y. - A new state and federal Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) will open in Oneida County on Thursday, October 13 to assist individuals, households and businesses affected by Tropical Storm Lee and the subsequent flooding, officials announced on Tuesday.

Operating hours for the center will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and the center will be closed Sundays.

"This disaster recovery center is a critical step in helping residents and business owners in Oneida County get the FEMA assistance they need and deserve," said Schumer. "Our communities shouldn't be left to shoulder this massive burden alone. I strongly encourage homeowners and business owners to visit these disaster relief centers so that they can find out exactly how FEMA can help."

"Families in the Mohawk Valley are losing their homes, businesses and livelihood in the wake of this devastating storm, and need relief," Senator Gillibrand said. "This Disaster Recovery Center will help provide a lifeline for families, and help put more of the resources we need on the ground. I will keep working to secure every federal resource we need here to recover."

The disaster recovery center will be located at the Whitesboro Fire Department at 171 Oriskany Boulevard in Whitesboro.

Former Whitestown Town Supervisor Matt Shannon will act as a volunteer liaison for the Sauquoit Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission and Congressman Richard Hanna is planning a meeting of all affected parties to discuss proactive measures that can be taken to mitigate flooding along Sauquoit Creek.

Shannon, who was instrumental in forming the commission in 2004, will act as Hanna's representative for the group that aims to alleviate flooding issues in the Sauquoit Creek. Hanna will host local and state elected officials as well as state and federal agencies, residents and business owners at a meeting to discuss ongoing efforts and ways to work together. "Matt is extremely knowledgeable about issues related to Sauquoit Creek and flood control," Hanna said. "He's served the community for decades and I'm pleased he's willing to lend his understanding of the situation to act as a liaison."

Shannon, who owns Village Motors in Oriskany, began serving in elected office in 1983. He last served as town supervisor in Whitestown.

"What we need to be is vigilant and aware of what it will take to prevent flooding as much as possible," Congressman Hanna said. "We can't control Mother Nature, but we can take proactive measures in the form of maintenance - through removing downed trees, debris and bolstering stream banks - to ensure snow melts and heavy rain won't result in devastating flooding. By working together on all levels we can limit the damage that was all too prevalent this year."

The centers will be staffed with disaster-recovery specialists who can provide information and answer questions about storm-related assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) strongly recommends that persons adversely affected by Tropical Storm Lee register before visiting a DRC.

By phone, you can call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362, a toll-free line that is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time, seven days a week until further notice.

People with speech disabilities can use the TTY number, 800-462-7585.

Applicants can also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or with any web-enabled mobile device or smartphone at m.fema.gov. Follow the link to "apply online for federal assistance."

Information needed when registering with FEMA includes the address of the damaged property, names of those living in the household, a general description of the damage, the Social Security number of any family member living in the home, the extent of insurance coverage and certain other information needed to expedite the process.

New York state agencies will join FEMA to provide services to the public at the centers. These include, but are not limited to, information about state disaster aid and help for unemployed persons and displaced workers as the result of the storm; information for senior citizens about state-funded programs; access to forms and services pertaining to motor vehicle issues; coordination and assistance with any needs for daycare services; and access to MyBenefits pre-screening tool. Representatives of these and other agencies will participate as determined by need.

Also on hand at the Disaster Recovery Center will be specialists from the Small Business Administration (SBA) who can explain the low-interest loan packages available to individuals, nonprofits and businesses of any size. These loans are for the repair or replacement of real estate and/or personal property damaged by the storm and related flooding, officials said. People who register with FEMA will be sent a loan application from the SBA. No one is obligated to take out a loan, according to the SBA. Applicants have six months after approval to decide whether to accept the loan.

FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for transportation, medical and dental, and funeral expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. Applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement and moving and storage expenses.

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