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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Feds Arrive to Provide Assistance with Damaged Homes

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has established a local team for those seeking flood disaster assistance money and direction.

Mike Sweet, a public information officer for FEMA in the Wilkes-Barre region, spoke to elected municipal officials Tuesday night at the Hughesville Volunteer Fire Department Social Hall.

"Don't procrastinate," he said.

Sweet suggested individuals with property damage as a result of the catastrophic flood that started Sept. 7 should register with the agency at 1-800-621-3362 or go to When applying for disaster assistance, have the following available: Social Security number including spouse, private insurance information, address and zip code of the damaged property, directions to the damaged home or property, daytime telephone number and current mailing address.

Individuals can expect a package to be sent back to them, and an inspector will call them within seven to 10 days to set up an appointment to look at and document the damage.

Sweet said there are small business association loans available and grant money.

"FEMA will be here until the job is done in Pennsylvania," he said. "We're here to assist. We're not here to push state and local officials aside."

Starting today, a Disaster Recovery Center has been established at 740 Fairfield Road near Montoursville. Signs will be put up along Interstate 180. The center opens at 1 p.m. today and will operate until 7 p.m. Thereafter, the center operates from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until it is deactivated, said John D. Yingling, director of the Lycoming County Department of Public Safety.

Sweet met with officials after the meeting to discuss, among the most pressing concerns, emergency housing needs.

He explained the federal Individuals and Households Program, which provides financial help or direct services to those who have necessary expenses and serious needs if they are unable to meet the needs through other means.

"Up to $30,200 is available in financial grant help for each applicant," Sweet said.

Forms are available for housing assistance, including temporary housing, repair, replacement and semi-permanent or permanent housing construction and other needs assistance. Applicants also may sign up for and potentially qualify for up to $200,000 in low-interest loans available through the Small Business Association at 2.5 percent or 3 percent interest.

"If you're having trouble with the Internet or phones, we'll have lines available," Sweet said.

Available state resources and information can be obtained by contacting state Reps. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport; Garth D. Everett, R-Muncy; and state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township. County commissioners' offices also are open to questions.

"Our goal is to get people back to some type of normalcy," Sweet said.

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