Disaster recovery center helps Randolph Co. residents

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - A Disaster Recovery Center has set up shop in the Pocahontas Community Center for those who need assistance after the recent storms.

The center offers bilingual services from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, the U.S. Small Business Administration and more.

Anyone with any damage to their property can take advantage of these services.

The organizations ask people with insurance to contact their company first. Then residents can seek additional, more immediate assistance at the center.

"We have people coming in and registering if they have any type of damage from the disaster," said Diahann Thames, a FEMA application service specialist.

FEMA's primary goal is to get residents in a natural disaster area to a safe, sanitary and functional environment.

"We do have people with some houses that aren't even livable so we try to get them in a hotel room or shelter that is safe," Thames said. "Floods, mildew we need to get them out of there so they'll be safe."

Thames said she can also put these residents in touch with grants or loans that could help. She said these are non-taxable funds so it won't impact those who receive Medicaid or Social Security benefits. 

"We get them registered and help them get the ball rolling on trying to get them back to some type of normalcy," Thames said.

To register at the center, bring an ID, social security card, homeowner's insurance and proof of the damage.

Thames said FEMA also encourages everyone to be prepared before disaster strikes because it really could happen to anyone.

"We could be next," Thames said. "Anyone could be next."

The organizations have signed up 16 people.

The center is also open Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. If anyone cannot make it to the center this weekend, register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or m.fema.gov for smartphones.

People can also call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for assistance. 

For tips on how to best prepare for natural disasters, visit this website.

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