The first Federal Emergency Management Agency checks for temporary housing assistance and emergency home repairs for victims of Hurricane Lenny will be in the mail on Thursday, Dec. 2, a FEMA spokeswoman at the agency's St. Croix headquarters says.
"The money is going to be on the street," Carol Hector-Harris told The Source on Wednesday.
Hector-Harris said statistics on the number of applications for assistance will also be available on Thursday. A figure of "more than a thousand" registrations cited by some news media Tuesday "is not the number," she said. According to a Monday FEMA release, "more than 600" calls to the teleregistration line to apply for assistance had been received as of that day.
FEMA opened a Disaster Recovery Center on St. Croix on Wednesday in Sion Farm Commercial Center Building I, Bays 1-6. It was one of several standard disaster recovery program steps initiated this week as the process of recovery from losses suffered as a result of Hurricane Lenny proceeds.
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Small Business Administration, which is operating out of the recovery center on St. Croix, opened offices on St. Thomas, at Tutu Park Mall in the former Oaktree shop location, and on St. John, at the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay. Both facilities will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. to provide the same services available at the recovery center.
FEMA and the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency opened a Federal/Territorial Disaster Field Office on Monday, also in the Sion Farm center. This is an administrative office for the coordination of government relief efforts, not an assistance application or information center.
And FEMA announced the opening of a toll-free telephone helpline for those who have already registered for assistance to get information on the status of their applications.
At the Disaster Recovery Center, representatives of FEMA, VITEMA, the SBA, the American Red Cross, the Internal Revenue Service, the federal Farm Service Agency and the territory's Finance and Labor Departments and Insurance Division are available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. to meet with those seeking assistance or information.
Initial registration for disaster assistance must be made by telephone to FEMA's toll-free teleregistration numbers, Hector-Harris noted. Those going to the recovery center to initiate application will be directed to a bank of telephones set up there for that purpose. In most cases, the initial application process takes about 20 minutes. Callers should be prepared to provide identification name, permanent address, working telephone number, insurance coverage and other information.
"It is not necessary to visit the recovery center" in order to follow up on applications, FEMA coordinating officer Michael Byrne noted, as this, too, may be done via toll-free telephone calls to FEMA helplines. Those wishing to check in person on the status of their claims should have their teleregistration application number. Applicants can also submit required documentation at the center to support their claims.
Personnel are available to provide information on FEMA's Disaster Housing program, Individual and Family Grants program and other types of assistance. SBA representatives are there to provide information about and applications for low-interest loans and to assist residents in completing loan applications.
Here are the toll-free telephone numbers:
Teleregistration (to initiate the application process): 1-800-462-9029 for the general public and 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- or hearing-impaired.
Helpline (to follow up on the status of earlier applications): 1-800-525-0321 for the general public and 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- or hearing-impaired.
All lines are currently staffed Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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