FEMA opens disaster recovery center at Griggs Center to help storm victims

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) has been opened at the William J. Griggs Recreation Center to help residents affected by the recent tornadoes.

FEMA Media Specialist Maria Padron said that the DRC officially opened on Sunday morning, but they were able to get a few people registered on Saturday as they were setting up the office. The U.S. Small Business Administration and Georgia Department of Human Services have also set up shop at Griggs to help storm victims.

Padron said that they had 261 registrations in Troup County and conducted 106 storm damage inspections on Sunday morning. She said 5,372 have registered statewide with 1,882 inspections completed.

Storm victims are asked to bring their social security number when they register. If a storm victim doesn’t have a social security number, they still might be able to get help.

Brian Miller, of FEMA Individual Assistance, said that those without social security numbers can potentially still get help if someone in their household is a U.S. citizen.

“With the presidential declaration with FEMA, we’re able to help citizens of the United States. If there are undocumented parents [or other non-citizens], but they have a child that has been born in the United States, they are a U.S. citizen.” Miller said. “So, when they register, they register with the child’s name as the registration, who is a U.S. citizen, and then we can assist that household.”

Padron said that storm victims that have homeowners’ or renter’s insurance should bring in the name of their insurance and the policy number.

Storm victims will also be asked to provide their banking information. including the name of their bank and routing and account numbers.

“This is the only time that we’re going to ask for that information. Once they register, we give them a number and anytime they want to communicate with us, they will give us that number,” Padron said, explaining the number acts as a security measure.

Victims will also be asked to provide a list of damages/losses, where the disaster happened, where they’re living now and contact information.

Storm victims can provide this at the disaster recovery center inside Griggs or via phone at 800-621-3362. People who have already registered can also come by the DRC to check on their status.

The DRC is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Phone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Padron said FEMA may be able to provide grant money to storm victims for rental assistance, personal property losses, hotel reimbursement, home repairs and other serious needs caused by the storm.

By law, FEMA is not allowed to duplicate insurance payments or assistance provided by other sources. However, the U.S. Small Business Administration is also set up at Griggs to potentially provide low-interest loans for storm victims waiting for their insurance to come through. Insurance payments can then be used to repay those loans.

FEMA also does not pay for lost or spoiled food, but the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) is also at Griggs to assist SNAP recipients with replacing food lost during the storm.

Anyone who lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to the Jan. 12 storm is eligible to request a replacement of SNAP benefits.

Only SNAP customers are eligible for the food loss replacement, but DFCS staff is available to help individuals in need to apply for assistance. SNAP benefits can also be applied for at gateway.ga.gov.

The FEMA disaster recovery center is located at the Griggs Center at 716 Glenn Roberson Dr. in LaGrange.