In the first eight days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster center in Groton has registered 76 people for damages from tropical storm Irene, including flooding, fallen trees and spoiled food, center manager Linda Hoskins said.
The recovery center in the Groton Senior Center saw eight people on its first day, but numbers rose as the word got out. FEMA put the center in Groton for the convenience for New London County residents, but it can serve anyone from any state, including those staying here temporarily after the storm, Hoskins said.
Annette Zeppieri, of Uncasville, stopped in Thursday.
"We have a leak in the roof now, and we lost power for seven days," she said. All the food in the family's freezer and refrigerator spoiled, although someone lent them a generator on day three, she said. Zeppieri said she must call her insurance company and find out what's covered, then was told she may qualify for a low-interest loan.
"They're really nice and helpful," she said of the FEMA workers.
Hoskins said visitors have been grateful for the help.
“Most people who came in just wanted to talk about the process, what the next step was, and talk about what their options were,” she said. “They were in control, and welcoming, actually.”
To see if you qualify for help, the first step is to register with FEMA, whether or not you have insurance, own or rent, she said. The number is 1-800-621-3342. You’ll get an actual person on the phone. Steps for specific issues are outlined below.
Register with FEMA. If you have flood insurance, you can file a claim with your insurance company for the damage. If you don’t how to go about it, call 211 and a volunteer can help.
Once your claim is settled or denied, call FEMA back at 1-800-621-3342 so they can assess what was covered or not covered. They’ll send you a letter asking for this insurance information. The letter reads like FEMA is denying your claim, Hoskins said, but it isn’t. It's just asking for the insurance claim information.
FEMA will then read it and send a representative to your house to inspect what was done, assess the remaining damage and determine what programs you qualify for.
If you have no insurance and even if you rent, you should apply directly to FEMA for help with flooding. They will see what programs you qualify for.
The same process applies. Register with FEMA, contact your insurance company if you have one, and file a claim. Once that claim is settled or denied, report that to FEMA and they will proceed with seeing what other programs you qualify for. Hoskins said you may also call 211; volunteers are being organized to help people remove debris.
“Particularly elderly people,” she said. “They can’t do the work themselves, they’re on fixed incomes, and they’ve got this gargantuan tree hanging over their house.”
Register with FEMA. Generally funds become available for food and are managed by states to reimburse people for lost refrigerator and freezer contents during a storm, though this has not happened yet in Connecticut. Sometimes programs are in the form of temporary food stamps.
In the meantime, Hoskins said other agencies can help. If you lost everything in your refrigerator and are barely getting by or unable to catch up, stop at the FEMA center and they will contact the Red Cross. They can also connect you with food banks or other agencies that can supply food.
Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Groton Senior Center. The center will remain open for 6 to 22 more days, depending on the amount of claims.