A Disaster Recovery Center has been established at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, located at 5450 State Route 20, Cartersville. Currently, the DRC is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, the numbers of people contacting FEMA representatives is dwindling and hours of operation could change.
At the center, storm victims can register for FEMA assistance and help from other agencies such as the Salvation Army and United Way.
"It's a one-stop place where you can meet all the different people involved in this disaster," Bill Lindsey, FEMA public information officer, said.
Assistance requests from people who were not affected by the storm has been an ongoing issue, and verification or identification of some sort, such as a driver's license or a bill for proof of residency, must be presented when filing requests. This information will be matched with a detailed list, compiled by FEMA, United Way, and the EMA and Bartow County Fire Department.
If someone claims they are a victim and they are not on the list, an investigation can be conducted to verify that the specific residence did receive damage caused by the storm. To verify damage, victims not on the list should call the county fire department at 770-387-5151 to have a truck dispatched to their address and confirm the claim.
In Bartow, 190 people have registered for assistance. Approximately 1,488 inspections have been conducted by FEMA with 27 inspectors working in the affected areas.
When meeting with an inspector, homeowners should have a proof of ownership in the form of mortgage payments or taxes. "We [also] need an address where you can be contacted because a lot of time people have to leave their homes," Lindsey added.
Renters are not excluded from FEMA assistance. Emergency lodging may be covered expenses if homes are uninhabitable. According to a FEMA news release, initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters.
"FEMA doesn't want anyone sleeping out in cars," said Lindsey, "and we don't want anyone sleeping under unsanitary conditions."
"There are a number of programs that we can give direct assistance to," he continued, "but we can't do anything unless you come in or register on the phone."
Programs offer aid in the form of unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs due to the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits. Grants to replace personal property and to help with medical, dental, funeral and transportation needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state or charitable aid programs are also available.
Financial assistance for home repairs and low-interest loans are offered as well if such costs are not covered by insurance companies. Small businesses, nonprofit organizations and small agricultural cooperatives may be eligible for loans up to $2 million. Farmers, ranchers and aqua-culture operators could receive up to $500,000 in loans.
"We want people to get back to their homes as soon as possible," Lindsey said, "[and the DRC] will open the doors to many programs for victims."
If housing is needed, Lindsey stated that a state agency is at the DRC devoting itself to meeting individual requests.
To complete an application or receive assistance, victims should either go to the DRC or call the FEMA hotline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Online applications are available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. From a mobile device, anyone affected may visit http://m.fema.gov or check out the GEMA Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/GEMA.OHS.
-- Shaka S. Lias contributed to this story.