Federal officials opened a Disaster Relief Center (DRC) in Sunrise earlier this month to help Broward County residents deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
The center, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), opened Oct. 9 at 7771 West Oakland Park Blvd. This center operates seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Individuals have the option of registering for assistance online or by phone, but if they have doubts or are confused they are urged to visit their nearest DRC.
“We still want to keep a humanistic appeal,” said FEMA spokeswoman La-Tanga Hopes.
Rebecca Kelly, another FEMA spokeswoman, said applications must include documentation and possibly even photos of the damaged property. Grants and loans are available, she said, from a variety of sources, including the Small Business Administration, private insurance companies and FEMA itself.
Other federal officials said the centers can help people wade through the application maze.
“Some people received letters in the mail telling them that they’re not eligible for aid, when there could just be some document missing,” said Erika Mendoza, a Homeland Security employee who was invited to assist at the DRCs in Miami-Dade and Sunrise.
Mendoza also addressed that victims do not leave these locations with checks or cash. Any form of aid will be disbursed once applications are reviewed. These centers are strictly for guidance, amendments and updates to applications.
“We want people to know what these centers offer,” said Karrie Beardall, the branch manager for the Sunrise DRC.
The centers, said Kelly, made the whole process more efficient.
“The only thing we can urge people to do is register, register, register,” she said.
She added that she received aid from FEMA after being affected by Hurricane Harvey in her home state of Texas, but she admitted she had been unaware of such grants before then.
“FEMA stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but I believe it stands for hope,” said Kelly.