A FEMA/state Mobile Disaster Recovery Center has opened outside of the Hatteras Civic Center and will remain operational through Wednesday, Nov. 2.
The recovery station, which is open daily from 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. and is easy to spot because of its extensive outdoor office, is a “one-stop shop” for any resident of Dare County or the 34 other counties that were affected by Hurricane Matthew, according to FEMA Disaster Recovery Manager, Eugene Beccue.
“That’s what we’re here for – to assist in any way we can,” says Beccue.
“Anyone that has had damage should come and see us,” says Nate Custer, FEMA public information officer. “…There is no requirement to come to the center [if you need assistance], but a lot of people are more comfortable talking to someone face to face, instead of on the phone.”
According to a news release from FEMA, the purpose of the Mobile Disaster Recovery Center, or MRDC, is to serve as a readily accessible mobile office where residents can go for information about FEMA, find out about other disaster assistance programs, and/or get answers to questions related to their individual situation.
And representatives from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), North Carolina Emergency Management, and other organizations are on hand throughout the day to talk with individuals one-on-one about all aspects of disaster assistance.
Essentially, the mobile office can tackle a wide realm of situations. Residents who have not yet registered for FEMA assistance can do so with the help of on-site applicant service specialists, while residents who have registered in the past three weeks for assistance can check on the status of their application.
In addition, people who have registered and who may have been denied and/or awarded less than they hoped they would receive for emergency home repairs can also go by the center to receive more details.
“Sometimes a claim is denied because there is missing information,” explains Custer, “or we may be waiting on the outcome of the [home insurance claim.]
“Whether someone has registered or not, we’re here to guide them through the process.”
And every resident who has been affected by Matthew is encouraged to register, according to both Custer and Beccue, regardless of whether or not they already have home insurance.
“We want everyone to register…. People could be under-insured, or not have flood or wind insurance to cover [certain damage],” says Custer. “And some people may not have insurance at all if they have a home that’s paid for – without a mortgage – or a home that’s been passed down for generations.”
The mobile office is impressive considering its outdoor venue, with multiple tables and chairs set up in an office-style environment, complete with computers, printers, and telephones – all to make the process of registering, checking on application status, and addressing other queries easier.
FEMA’s role is to provide grants to homeowners for emergency home repairs that are not covered by home insurance.
“We don’t duplicate the home insurance [funds],” explains Custer. “We wait on the outcome of that before deciding on the grant.”
Renters without rental insurance and small business owners can also stop by and talk with the SBA regarding loans to get back on their feet.
As of early Monday afternoon, 18 residents had already stopped by the mobile office to register and ask questions, and the number will likely grow as word spreads through local news outlets and Radio Hatteras public service announcements.
FEMA and the state also have DRCs open in other impacted counties throughout North Carolina, and may return to Hatteras Island again in the future, if needed.
In the meantime, residents are encouraged to stop by, call, or visit the website in order to learn more about the FEMA assistance that may be available, or to simply inquire about an existing application.
“The number one message we want to get out is that if [people] have damage, come and see us,” says Beccue. “Your questions can be answered here.”
How to Register: