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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - September 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk Count
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FEMA opens disaster recovery office in Livingston
Polk County Enterprise - September 2008
BY LYNN BROWN
Staff Reporter

LIVINGSTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance arrived in Livingston Tuesday. An offi ce with multiple federal and state organizations has moved into the former First National Bank building located on Hwy. 190 next to Wal-Mart to assist victims with damages caused by Hurricane Ike. Tuesday afternoon saw a line forming outside the building with federal FEMA and US Small Business Administration (SBA) representatives setting up computers and telephones to offer public information and assistance to residents experiencing devastation from Hurricane Ike. The disaster relief teams will be open for operation at least two weeks according to FEMA site coordinator, Rose Blaha. Texas Workforce Commission is located in the offi ce along with the State Department of Health Services. Trained personnel to aid area residents needing assistance staff the state and federal offi ces represented at the site. FEMA personnel will register persons with on-site computers and telephones.

All information is presented in English and Spanish. To aid in the process, persons should bring certain information with them to the offi ce. The information requested is a telephone number where the victim can be reached, social security number, current mailing address, address of property that received damage, a brief description of the damages and insurance information including the policy number. With this information at hand, the registration process will run more effi ciently for both storm victims and FEMA staff. Previously registered victims, who received the registration and district numbers, may use the site for a status check of the application.

The SBA Administration offi ce personnel are on hand to provide and explain information of low interest rate loans available to residents for home, businesses and agricultural areas in the disaster area. November 12 is the deadline for physical property applications. Economic injury applications are due by June 15, 2009. Home disaster loans for repair or replacement to real and personal property is available to property owners and renters including fi nancing for automobiles. Business loans include real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Private and nonprofi t organizations are also eligible for loans. To assist businesses, agricultural cooperatives and non-profit period, economic injury disaster loans are available.

These loans are limited to organizations and entities that cannot provide for economic recovery on their own. Credit and collateral requirements are necessary for all SBA loans. Interest rates on SBA loans are fixed for the loan term and lower than conventional rates to aid in the recovery process. Restrictions apply for loan eligibility and amount of loans. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is a State agency available at the site to assist with unemployment disaster-related benefits. Applicants whose employment or selfemployment was interrupted or lost due to Hurricane Ike may be eligible for benefits. The deadline for filing for these benefits is October 15.

Applicants are required to provide information including Social Security number, copy of most recent tax return or check stubs or documents showing work periodws or self-employment at the time of the disaster. The local Texas Workforce Center office is also available to register individuals and assist with employment opportunities. The State Department of Health Services is also located at the site to offer tetanus, flu and TDAP shots to individuals. The tetanus vaccine is available for persons over 65 and the TDAP vaccine is available for persons under the age of 65. There is an uncomplicated registration process and supply of shots may be limited depending on demand by disaster victims. The Salvation Army has a meal van available at the site for food and drinks to individuals attending the site until Saturday. Volunteers staff the van through a coordinated statewide effort to aid in the disaster relief .

After Saturday, the van will move to the Houston and Galveston area to provide assistance to victims at those locations. The Southern Baptist Convention of Texas is located at the site to assist with temporary childcare while victims register and learn about the types of assistance available. The organization has a children’s area set up to entertain and relieve some stress for parents during this process. Parents must register children at the site located behind the bank building.

The Brazos Transit District is a general public transportation provider and victims needing transport assistance to the disaster relief site may use this service. Transportation arrangements need to be scheduled in advance and can be made from 1-7 days from the trip date. To make an appointment, call the scheduling office at 1-800-272-0039 or the local office at 936-327-0192.

All participating organizations are located at one site to provide the most efficient registration process and present the benefits available to all storm victims in Polk County. Registrants can make the process less stressful by bringing the necessary information with them. Storm victims who experienced damages from Hurricane Ike are encouraged to visit the site and begin the recovery process.

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