Flood victims urged to apply for aid

BY DAVE SINGLETON

Times-Shamrock Writer

Emergency management director Eugene Dziak knows the people inWyomingCountypride themselves on their self-reliance, but this is one time they need to accept the help that is available.

With the county’s numbers lagging behind what he believes they should be, Dziak on Monday implored residents who were affected by flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster assistance.

“People inWyomingCountyhave this mindset of, you know, we can get through this, and they can – there is no doubt they can,” he said. “But what people need to hear is this is big enough that they may need help, and we encourage them to take it. With them registering, that helps us help them get the resources they need.”

As of Monday, 162 individuals and businesses in the county that had losses as a result of Irene had registered with FEMA for aid, and 622 who received damage from the Lee flooding had signed up.

Dziak said there are still hundreds who have not registered, particularly from the Lee disaster, which county officials believe impacted more than 3,000 county homes and businesses.

“The number is low,” he said of the registration totals so far. “We know there are more out there. There are at least that many more – at least.”

Dziak said he has talked to a number of residents who mistakenly believe they cannot seek federal aid because they have flood insurance.

“You need to register even if you have flood insurance,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. Make the registration. Make it happen.”

In addition, people who were affected by both Irene and Lee need to register twice to ensure they receive the maximum amount of assistance they are entitled to, he said.

Dziak said county officials also are encouraging flood victims to visit the disaster recovery center at theTunkhannockAreaSchool DistrictAdministrationBuilding, where there are resources available they may not even realize that they need.

For example, he said, the state Department of Transportation can help with the replacement of driver’s licenses and vehicle titles lost in the flooding, and the Department of Environmental Protection is providing water well testing kits.

“The help is there,” Dziak said. “Utilize it.”