FEMA disaster recovery centers close; some transition to loan outreach centers
BATON ROUGE – All FEMA disaster recovery centers that have been open since the August flood will close today at 6 p.m.
The centers have been a place for residents to receive assistance on how to rebuild.
One flood survivor, Jimmy Halford, has been to the centers multiple times since impacted by the flood.
"At least 4 or 5 at this location, I've been to Baton Rouge locations too," Halford said.
As the Livingston Parish disaster recovery center was one of the last centers to close, help will now transition to over the phone. A change that Halford says will be difficult.
"All I can tell you is we haven't gotten any help whatsoever," Halford said.
"I think it's horrible. We've been here at these locations dealing with this stuff ever since September, and we haven't gotten any help here with our place, so I can't even imagine what it will be like when there is no place here to come and get some help," he said.
However, FEMA officials promise that assistance will not change, only the way in which residents receive it.
"So there's a reason to have DRC's, but that reason doesn't last forever. So the fact that we're closing them doesn't mean we're leaving and it doesn't mean the disaster is over," Kurt Pickering, FEMA public information officer, said.
Pickering said that residents can make the process easier when they call the FEMA helpline by already having their registration information on hand.
"When you call that number, if you have your FEMA pin, the nine-digit number you got when you registered, we'll be able to handle your case more efficiently if we have that number than if we have to find you in the system, the pin brings you right up," Pickering said.
Some disaster recovery centers will transition and reopen into a disaster outreach loan center for those who are still processing Small Business Administration loans.
As of Friday, the total amount of loan applicants has reached more than 30,000 with more than 15,000 applicants approved.
A list of the disaster recovery centers transitioning to loan outreach centers can be found here. Residents can call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
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