BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
When disaster strikes, FEMA employee Angela Sessions may not likely be very far behind.
The manager of theWyomingCountyDisasterRecoveryCenterat41 Philadelphia Avenue, Tunkhannock, hails fromPensacola,Fla., and before she arrived here earlier in September saw disaster in the country’s midsection when she arrived not long after a tornado and stayed for a devastating round ofMississippi Riverflooding.
“We’re here to help when times are toughest,” Sessions said last Wednesday. “Our main goal is first to see that people are safe, sanitary and functional.”
“From there, we need to make it clear that people understand that they are not all alone and that they can come here to seek help when they may not know where to turn.,” she said.
To that end the TunkhannockDRCis a one-stop shop that takes the best that state and local agencies have to offer in a time of emergency and assembles them under one roof.
As of Monday, some 622 individuals and businesses inWyomingCountyhad registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster assistance for losses from Tropical Storm Lee and 363 had been approved for funds totaling $5.1 million.
Another 162 individuals and businesses inWyomingCountyhad done the same thing for damages from Hurricane Irene and 102 were approved for funds totaling $1.1 million.
Wyoming CountyEMAdirector Gene Dziak said he believes this is probably less than half of those who are eligible and need to avail themselves of theDRC’s services.
What will you find if you go there?
Sessions claimed that individual assistance is available in a number of ways, and on Wednesday tables were set up in the following areas:
*Public Welfare can distribute emergency food stamps and offer cash/medical assistance.
*Health Dept. can monitor public health issues, distribute personal protective supplies and replace birth certificates.
*Crisis counseling is available for those overwhelmed by their losses and damages.
*The Dept. of Community and Economic Development can address temporary housing, small business loans for businesses, and local govt. information directed to municipalities.
*The Small Business Administration can provide home/personal assistance for owners and renters and business property damage and repair, as well as low interest loans.
*Dept. of Environmental Protection can provide well water testing kits, emergency permits, fuel tank spills and pumping, barrel/drum removal of flood debris and address other environmental concerns.
*Dept. of Agriculture can address lost crops, recovery information for restaurants and farmers, and animal health issues.
Dept. of Revenue can provide business and individual tax information, and help with estate/inheritance tax filing as well as tax deadline extensions.
*Insurance Dept can address red tape issues with local agencies.
*Unemployment Dept. can assist with claims when businesses temporarily or permanently shut down.
*PennDOT can help with lost vehicle registrations/titles and drivers licenses
*The Attorney General’s office can assist renters with legal issues.
*The Education Department can facilitate transportation issues when students dissplaced across school district lines.
Sessions said that on other days if a request comes that FEMA may not have a table set up, “We will sort out how to get an answer. Our bottom line is we’re here to help and we’ll be here in the area as long as needed.”
Dziak urged those who theink they may be eligible for assistance to do so as soon as possible.