Riverwatch: Disaster recovery center opens in Pierre

A federal/state Disaster Recovery Center for people affected by this year’s floods will open at the Pierre Mall on Tuesday.

“Register with FEMA first,” said Mark Neveau, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s operation in South Dakota. “Then come to the Disaster Recovery Center for information, for personal help with things like filling out the application for a loan from the Small Business Administration, to check on the status of your case or to see what other aid might be available.”

The Disaster Recovery Center will be in the Pierre Mall at 1615 North Harrison Drive until further notice. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday of this week, and beginning on Tuesday after Labor Day the hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The center will be closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday on Labor Day weekend.

“State agencies that can help will also be at the Disaster Recovery Center,” said Kristi Turman, the State Coordinating Officer and head of the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management. “We are also actively seeking a location in Union County for a Disaster Recovery Center there.”

State organizations that will also be represented at the Disaster Recovery Center include the Department of Labor and Regulation (for those whose jobs were affected), the Department of Social Services, the Department of Health, the South Dakota Housing Development Authority, the Department of Human Services, and the South Dakota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

Those who had damage, lost income or suffered injuries because of the flooding from March 11, 2011 through July 22, 2011 are encouraged to register with FEMA first, as that is the first step to getting disaster aid. Registering means contacting FEMA directly and getting a registration number. Previous contacts with FEMA or emergency officials, or calling the state flood hotline, do not register anyone with FEMA. People and businesses can register by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 800-462-7585, or going online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov. The toll-free line will be in operation from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT seven days a week until further notice.

Persons affected by the floods can also apply for federal assistance through a web-enabled mobile device or Smartphone by going to m.fema.gov and following the link to apply online for federal assistance and other recovery help.

The Disaster Recovery Center is open to everyone, and state and voluntary agencies may be able to provide assistance to a wide variety of flood survivors. However, under the disaster declaration only residents and business owners in Charles Mix, Hughes, Stanley and Union counties are eligible for federal disaster assistance, and more than 750 households have already registered with FEMA.

Officials advise applicants to have the following information available when applying for assistance:

  • Current telephone number
  • Address at the time of the disaster and current address
  • Social Security number
  • A general list of damages and losses
  • If insured, the name of the company, agent, and policy number
  • Bank account and routing number for direct deposit of funds if you become eligible

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