FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Florence County Disaster Recovery Center opened its' doors Tuesday afternoon to help those residents still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.
It is located at the R.O.B. community building and will remain open until the need is no longer there. There are Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives on standby ready and willing to answer any questions people may have.
FEMA manage, Joann Cook recommends people register before coming to the center in order to expedite the process. Individuals can check the status of their application, schedule an inspector to come to their house and find out every detail about eligibility.
Cook encourages all flood victims to apply with the Small Business Association for low interest loans on homes or businesses.
An SBA employee said not to wait for an insurance settlement and just apply with FEMA first. If it turns out a loan is needed, then they will receive a referral.
"When people get their letters, sometimes they just see you don't qualify," Cook said. "That does not mean that they don't qualify. Maybe it just means they didn't fill out their form correctly or there's a document that you need. So, you need to come and bring all those documents so we can get the most help for you under the law that we can provide."
One man who was the first in line as the doors opened at the center said he has lived in Lake City all his life before recalling the moments during Hurricane Matthew.
"It was tremendous, just unbelievable," said Franklin Gamble. "I hadn't seen anything like it in all my life. There was wind damage, tree damage, storm windows, storm doors, the leakage on the ceiling from the roof."
He added large trees took over his house, so he does not have the resources to fix the damage without FEMA.
Gamble said he applied for FEMA even before it was announced that Florence County was eligible. Once it was, he said an inspector came to his house, and a couple days later he received a letter in the mail from the agency to take the next step.
Cook said FEMA is doing everything it can to make this process as easy as possible.
"Hurricane Matthew just affected so many people, so now is the time to get all the help you are entitled to," she said.
Cook explained people can come as many times as they'd like, because that's what these disaster recovery centers are here for.
The additional disaster site at the Dr.'s Bruce and Lee Foundation Library in the city of Florence is just to register for FEMA. It does not have all of the resources like the Lake City location has.
The center's hours will be Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will be closed on Sundays.
The Dr.'s Bruce and Lee Foundation Library, located at 509 S. Dargen St., in Florence is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday for the next two weeks.
To register, click here or call the FEMA helpline at (800) 621-3362.