SIKESTON - The Federal Emergency Management Association, which has a temporary Disaster Recovery Center set up at the First United Methodist Church in Sikeston, is shutting down its operation at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
FEMA is helping with disaster relief in 37 counties in Missouri. In all, around 2,067 people who were subject to property damage from the recent storms have applied for and received help from FEMA. In Scott County alone, 13 people had received aid from FEMA by Tuesday morning.
"FEMA acts as an umbrella when entering a community. We organize and work with the local government and nonprofit organizations, as well as the Small Business Association, the Department of Agriculture, the IRS and many other organizations in order to help individuals who were affected by the March storms get back on their feet" explained FEMA Manager Elizabeth Morris.
FEMA doesn't rebuild houses or directly offer funds to those in need. Rather, the job of FEMA is to connect people who need assistance to those who are in the position to offer assistance.
The Small Business Association, which can be contacted at www.sba.gov/
disaster, can provide low interest loans to those struggling for finances after a natural disaster, Morris said.
Other government organizations also help disaster victims. The IRS, for example, can offer tax benefits to those who have suffered damages.
If a person affected by the storms of March 9-13 is in need of assistance, an application form for FEMA can be found on the FEMA website, www.fema.gov, or one can simply talk to FEMA representatives at the First United Methodist Church before they leave on Wednesday.
Ron Reynolds of the State Emergency Management Association said "renters and business owners interested in federal and state disaster assistance must register with FEMA ... even if they have already reported their losses to city or county officials."
Morris further stated: "There is a common misconception about FEMA, and that is that anyone who is insured automatically will not be eligible for assistance from FEMA. This is most definitely not the case. I urge everyone who has been impacted by these storms to apply for aid, whether he or she is insured or not."
If anybody is already in contact with FEMA but has recently moved, Morris stressed they must contact FEMA with the changes in contact information or else they might unintentionally drop out of the system.
"Any group desiring to help in the recovery efforts can contact FEMA and inform them that their services are available, Art Alejandre, the FEMA public information officer, said. "FEMA will then attempt to connect that group with an organization that can utilize the groups assistance. Any individual wanting to assist in the effort should get in contact with one of the local non-profit organizations and work through them."
FEMA does not only help with recovery, it also aims at prevention. Models for safe rooms, which provide safety in tornadoes, and plans for stronger "hurricane roofs" are provided by FEMA and can be found at the temporary headquarters, on the FEMA Website or by calling 1-800-480-2540 and asking for publication 320 A.
FEMA will leave its Sikeston headquarters Wednesday, but Morris ensures "the effort does not end just because we leave."
Local organizations, such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, will continue to aid in the recovery efforts and FEMA can still be contacted and provide further information and assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362.
Any person desiring one on one help or advice from FEMA must visit the disaster relief center before it closes. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday.