Disaster Recovery Center connects residents with flood assistance

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Cashton, Wis. (WXOW) – Flooding in late August caused devastation throughout the region, wiping out the homes and belongings of countless families. Various disaster relief organizations spend time providing assistance in the area and around Wisconsin, but efforts are not done yet.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) collaborates with other national organizations, like the US Small Business Administration. They also work with statewide groups, like the Wisconsin Emergency Management Agency.

Together they financially support residents or connect them to resources that can.

On Wednesday, they opened a Disaster Recovery Center in Cashton. The facility aims to help Monroe County residents impacted by the flooding.

FEMA uses preliminary damage assessments and Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams to determine what communities they will spend time in.

“We get a pretty good picture of how many people are going to need assistance, and based on that we can make moves,” Media Relations Specialist and FEMA Spokesperson Jim Homstad explains.

After recent flooding, nine Wisconsin counties including La Crosse, Vernon, and Crawford were designated for federal assistance through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program.

They focus on housing assistance, offering grants up to $34,000. Homstad says recovery centers provide more than that.

“FEMA isn’t the team, FEMA is part of the team. It’s a federal, state and local team. A true recovery is not going to be achieved without everybody working together,” Homstad describes.

Organizations, like the US Small Business Administration, enhance FEMA efforts. They offer low-interest loans to take care of costs missed by insurance.

“You have damages to your home, you have damages to your business. We are here making sure everyone knows how to get assistance,” Tauheedah Mateen, Public Affairs Specialist with the US Small Business Administration, says.

Education is the goal of recovery centers. Workers answer questions and provide literature about programs residents may qualify for.

“They can work to get you referrals to other agencies who are faith-based, charitable, community organizations that may offer immediate assistance to people,” Homstad adds.

Before organizations can assist anyone at recovery centers, residents must apply for disaster assistance.

“Your first step is to register with FEMA, that’s the first step we need you to do. So don’t wait because there is a deadline,” Mateen advises.

Residents can apply in a variety of ways. A FEMA app is available on smartphones and tablets, residents may register online at DisasterAssistance.Gov, or by calling 800-621-3362.

Homstad advises, even if residents called 211 closer to the disaster they must still register before the December 17 deadline to use services.

If residents in any impacted counties missed the recovery center in their area, they may still utilize centers in counties outside their homes.

FEMA will reopen their recovery center in La Crosse for an additional two days this year.

The center will be open Monday, November 12 and close Tuesday, November 13. It is located in the La Crosse County Administrative Center at 212 6th St. North in La Crosse.

Peter Lenz

Peter Lenz

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