Disaster Recovery Center opens in South Bend

NOW: Disaster Recovery Center opens in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A disaster recovery center opened in South Bend Thursday, hoping to help any and all flood victims with damage from February’s historic floods.

The center opened on Michigan Street. It’s a sight welcomed by flood victims like John Fischer, who lives in the Northshore Triangle Neighborhood.

 “All the furniture, the carpeting, beds, all our storage stuff is destroyed,” said Fischer. His once finished basement is now under construction. It’s costing him a pretty penny.

 “A lot more than what we got payed for,” he said, “probably $15,000 or $20,000.”

So he was excited to hear a center is now open to help him receive federal funding.

“Oh I think it’s awesome,” he said. “I mean anything would help.”

FEMA says $1.1 million has been approved to help Indiana residents recover.

So far, around 900 people have registered.

But Rita Egan, media specialist for FEMA, says everyone should register just to see what options are available. No matter the severity of damages.

 “The bottom line is these are your tax dollars at work,” said Egan. “We have the parameters, these are eligibility programs. We’re going to look to see if you qualify.”

Egan also wants people to know, the Small Business Administration is FEMA’s partner in the recovery process.

“FEMA’s assistance is very set, so that’s why we team up with the Small Business Administration,” she said. “If you get contact from the Small Business Administration, remember, it’s part of the FEMA process, complete it.”

Egan says many people are confused and ignore when the Small Business Administration reaches out.

 “We want to make certain that folks know we’re separate from the SBA that helps people just start a business, but we’re uniquely equipped to provide services and loans in times of disaster,” said Karen Knapik, public affairs specialist for U.S. Small Business Administration.

In fact, Knapik says she works with more homeowners than businesses.

Providing low interest loans of up to $200,000 for real estate and $40,000 for personal property damages.

Those loans are something Fischer says could really help.

“Our basement is still kind of under construction, we’re trying to do everything ourselves to try to save money but it’s an expensive project,” he said.

Flood victims are encouraged to register online before visiting the center.

Inside the center victims can learn more about short-term and long-term aid.

Documents like pictures, receipts and insurance information can all be brought into the center to speed up the FEMA application.

The center will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice. It is located at 534 N. Michigan Street. 

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