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FEMA arrives

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By CHELSEA BURNETTThe Wilson Post

A small team of Community Relations specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has arrived in Wilson County to aid those who have been affected by the recent flood damage.

John Jewell, director of the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency, explained that the team is designed to help citizens who have been afflicted by the costly damage find out how to go about receiving assistance and the proper steps to follow.

The team from FEMA is setting up shop, called the Disaster Recovery Center, in Suite 350 in the Prime Outlets-Lebanon shopping center and should be open within the next couple days. As of Tuesday, the government officials from Wilson County and the FEMA representatives had not yet met to discuss the logistics regarding the layout of the office, but the space is clear and ready for the team to move in, Jewell said. The DRC is located near the store established by the American Red Cross and local volunteers to provide needed items for flood victims.

Jewell strongly encouraged those seeking assistance to obtain if they can, the forms needed to present to FEMA workers, which will help speed the process.

“We strongly encourage that people register with FEMA either by phone or online before heading to the offices,” he said.

The proper registration forms can be obtained by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 from 7 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week, or by visiting www.FEMA.gov.

“As of yesterday, the number of buildings being damaged was at 489, and we anticipate it will probably rise to 500,” he said.

According to Jewell, there are several types of aid that can be available to victims including grants and low interest residential loans, as well as low interest small business loans.

When applying for assistance, he urged the public to bring all documents available that might be helpful in assessing the damage done to property. Pictures, insurance claims, and especially denial letters from your insurance company are all useful when trying to receive assistance from the FEMA representatives, he noted.

Jewell said you must present your case and then it is up to the Community Relations branch of FEMA to evaluate the proper amount of assistance needed. He added that various factors, such as income level, will be taken into consideration.

The DRC will serve as a central location for FEMA and WEMA resources. In addition, a representative from the Small Business Administration will be there to help business owners get financial assistance.

The DRC office is designed to deal with the paperwork end of applying for assistance, while the store established by the Red Cross and others in the community is set up to allow affected persons to obtain food, supplies and furniture.

Staff Writer Chelsea Burnett may be contacted at chelsea@wilsonpost.com.

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