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FEMA urges Pa. residents to file for aid

July 12, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A disaster recovery center for those whose homes and property were damaged or destroyed by flooding in late June could open in Franklin County by the end of the week, according to county officials.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will be here today to look at the former Thompson Institute in the Norland Shopping Center, Assistant County Administrator Kelly Livermore told the Board of County Commissioners. If the space is approved, a relief center could be opened by 1 p.m. Friday.

In addition to federal agencies, representatives from the Pennsylvania departments of Health, Labor and Industry, Department of Environmental Protection, Aging and Public Welfare will be at the center, Livermore said. County agencies will also be represented there, she said.

The center's hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, Livermore said.

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To make use of the recovery center, however, people must first register with FEMA, said FEMA reservist Rita Kepner. She said 144 people from the county had applied for disaster assistance by telephone or online as of Monday night.

Residents can register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) or online at www.fema.gov.

The preliminary assessment so far has shown 296 residences damaged, said county Director of Emergency Services Jerry Flasher. About 200 of those are in Greene Township, said Gary Himes, the county's acting emergency management coordinator.

Much of the damage occurred in the Northwood, Village Green Manor and Lincoln Dell mobile home parks in the township.

Flasher said there are likely more properties that sustained damage, but people must first register for assistance.

"That starts the ball rolling," he said.

The assessment of damage to roads, sewer and water systems and other public property is ongoing, Flasher said. The damage estimate as of Tuesday was about $600,000, he said.

Most of those coming to the center will have received packets from FEMA or the Small Business Administration and might need assistance filling them out, said Maryann Carlisle, a FEMA reservist.

"As long as people come in and need help, we're here," she said. Grants and low-interest loans will be available to those who qualify, she said.

Flasher issued a press release Tuesday night stating that people who have registered for assistance will be contacted by FEMA to make an appointment for a disaster housing inspection. Owners and renters must be able to show proof of occupancy, such as a driver's license or utility bill.

Community Emergency Response Teams, or CERTs, have been activated to assist in the relief and recovery work, Flasher said. The Red Cross was training 20 CERT volunteers Tuesday to help register flood victims with that organization for assistance.

The Red Cross site at Chambersburg Area Middle School is scheduled to close at 5 p.m. today. After today, those seeking assistance can call the local Red Cross Chapter at 717-264-6214, according to a press release.

The Red Cross has helped at least 122 families in the county, said Amanda Mellott, a secretary with the county chapter.




How to apply



Franklin County residents affected by last month's flooding can register with FEMA by calling 800-621-FEMA (800-621-3362) or going online at www.fema.gov.

Staff writer Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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