That’s why November 15 looms as such an important day. It’s the deadline for FEMA applications and it is rapidly approaching. November 15 is the cutoff date to have an application submitted. Once again, we encourage everyone who had even a small amount of loss in the storm to file a FEMA claim.
How difficult is it? Not very. You call a toll free number, talk to a real person on the other end, and in about 10 minutes you’ll be given a case number and told what you need to do next. That’s it, that’s how simple it is. For those who prefer the Internet, you can visit a website, spend about the same 10 minutes, and again you’ll be registered in the system.
One reason we urge registration is because FEMA pulls out of Vermont this week, at least in direct presence. The last two disaster recovery centers, in Dover and Waterbury, closed their doors on Thursday. But that doesn’t mean FEMA is going to wash its hands of Vermont, and turn to the next disaster while turning its back on Vermont.
FEMA will still be offering services, and there are also advocates out there to help both businesses and individuals. For individuals, Southeastern Vermont Community Action has a warehouse full of household items that are available for free and has just hired a community action representative to help folks in Windham County. Likewise, the chamber of commerce, the Vermont Small Business Development Center in Springfield, and BDCC in Brattleboro have boots on the ground to help folks get back on their feet.
One thing we have learned in the past 10 weeks is that the recovery process will be long. Part of that has to do with money, of course. The process for FEMA is relatively speedy, but the Small Business Administration process can be drawn out. There are also private funds, and they are able to distribute funds quickly, but their resources are limited, to say the least. Saying a fund has $100,000 may seem like a lot, but spread that over 500 households or businesses and all of a sudden there isn’t so much to go around.
Which brings us back to our central point: Register for FEMA. Even if you feel like you shouldn’t do so because others may be worse off, you should still register. Let FEMA staff decide who is worthy. That’s what they do, every day.
What are those phone numbers and web addresses? FEMA, (800) 621-3362, www.DisasterAssistance; SEVCA, (802) 722-4575, (800) 464-9951, www.sevca.org; BDCC, (802) 257-7731, www.brattleborodevelopment.com; Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, (802) 464-8092, www.visitvermont.com.