Flood recovery specialists in South Bend will help you apply for FEMA money

South Bend Tribune photo

Happening now, recovery specialists are offering help for those of you still cleaning up after this year's historic flooding.

A new disaster recovery center is now open in South Bend. It's in the Leighton Center across from Memorial Hospital.

FEMA has millions of dollars to help you get back on your feet. The only way to know how much you're eligible for, is to apply.

"I had about 4 inches of water in my basement,” said Barbara Debuysser, who lives near Bowman Creek.

So Debuysser went down to this Disaster Relief Center before work. The staff there is glad she – and 900 others – have visited, no matter how minor their damage.

“We are going to look to see if you qualify,” said Rita Egan, FEMA media relations specialist. “You may not qualify, but then again you might. So you don't want to take yourself out of the possibility.”

FEMA has already set aside more than a million dollars for relief efforts. The agency partnered with the Small Business Administration.

"FEMA is here to get you into a safe sanitary and secure environment,” said Egan.

"We are the folks to help you with long-term funding to actually do the rebuilding and the repairing,” said Karen Knapik, SBA public relations.

Which is more the direction Debuysser is moving in.

"What I want to do is get help so that I can get the basement waterproofed so that I don't have to go through this again,” said Debuysser.

Debuysser could qualify for a 1.8 percent fixed interest loan for that project.

But you'll never know how much aid you'll qualify for, unless you apply.

"People are afraid,” said Knapik. “They also think ‘If I take something, I'm taking it from my neighbor, and they have more damage than I do so I'll be OK.’ Take advantage of it because there's plenty of money for everybody.”

"The bottom line is if you don't give FEMA the opportunity to say yes to you application, you've eliminated a lot of resources,” said Egan.

Debuysser is glad she stopped by.

"I could not afford to do that on my own or I would've done it the first time it happened.”

This center will be open 7 days a week until further notice. The experts inside say there's plenty of money to help a lot of people.

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