FEMA, state to open disaster recover center in Riverhead

09/10/2011 10:42 AM |

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state are opening a second disaster recovery center in Suffolk County, this time in Riverhead, to help those who suffered losses from Tropical Storm Irene, which toppled trees and flooded neighborhoods across the region last month.

The center, located at the Riverhead Fire Department on Roanoke Avenue, will open Monday at noon.

Another center opened Friday in Hauppauge.

While many residents in declared counties are eligible for federal assistance, some aren’t taking advantage of it, state Office of Emergency Management officials said.

“There are some misconceptions about getting help,” said Philip Parr, a FEMA federal coordinating officer. “Often people who would qualify for assistance miss out because they are mistaken or misinformed.”

Some incorrectly think money accepted from FEMA could impact their Social Security checks or would be taxed as income by the Internal Revenue Service, officials said. Others who have already cleaned up or made repairs mistakenly assume they’re no longer eligible.

Officials said the most common reason residents don’t register with FEMA is that they assume they’re automatically registered by contacting town, county or state officials, which is not the case.

The new Riverhead center will be staffed by FEMA disaster-recovery specialists who will provide information on the following assistance programs:

• individual assistance

• public assistance

• the hazard mitigation grant program

• small business administration

• individuals and households

• disaster unemployment assistance

• USDA food coupons and distribution

• USDA food commodities

• disaster legal services

• disaster supplemental nutrition assistance program

• crisis counseling

The center will be open Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Homeowners and business owners could register with FEMA by going to www.disasterassistance.gov or calling (800) 621-3361 before going to the center. Applicants should bring documentation that shows the extent of the damage and proof from an insurance company or agent that the losses aren’t covered, officials said.

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