Federal and state officials have nearly tripled the number of Disaster Recovery Centers operating in flood ravaged parts of the state. The number now stands at 18. FEMA spokesman Eugene Brezany is in the field in central Pennsylvania, and says those DRCs have been busy. “A lot of people are following up on their application and that’s what we’re there for.”
Between Tropical Storm Lee and the earlier Hurricane Irene, FEMA has received 29,000 registrations from Pennsylvanians seeking federal assistance. 10,000 Pennsylvania applications have been approved and Brezany says $47-million dollars in aid have been obligated so far. “It’s moving as fast as it can for somebody. For everybody, it’s probably not fast enough, but we are certainly moving some funds out the door.”
No deadline for applications has been established yet, but FEMA won’t be here forever, and Brezany says the sooner flood victims register, the sooner the process can begin.
The maximum federal grant for disaster assistance is $30,200, but the average runs in the $4,000 to $5,000 dollar range. “It’s not going to get anybody back to square one, it’s simply designed to get people back on their feet so that they can help themselves,” Brezany explained. Bills have been introduced in the State Senate, which would pick up where the federal efforts leave off.
Meanwhile, FEMA officials and Pennsylvania flood victims alike are watching the latest political battle on Capitol Hill. FEMA’s disaster recovery fund is caught in the middle, and could run dry as early as next week. It’s not clear what the implications could be for PA flood victims.
Flood victims are asked to register before they visit a Disaster Recovery Center. Eligible counties from Tropical Storm Lee include: Adams, Bradford, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Wyoming and York. Eligible counties from Hurricane Irene include: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, Philadelphia, Sullivan and Wyoming.