FEMA Disaster Recovery Center opens in Cedar Rapids

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 6:19 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - On Wednesday in Cedar Rapids, the first Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Recovery Center opened following the August 10 derecho.

It’s in the parking lot of Veterans Memorial Stadium on the southwest side. FEMA has approved about 10% of Linn County households that have applied for federal help so far. Those who received FEMA grants are sharing $1.7 million dollars.

“It’s already being provided via direct deposit, more than 500 Linn County households have already been approved, check your bank accounts see if a deposit has been made,” John Mills, a FEMA spokesperson, said.

The first day of the only on-site disaster recovery center in Iowa was busy. Rachel Pettit was one of those people looking for help. She came from Benton County, just one day after individual assistance through FEMA was made available there.

“We had an insurance adjuster come out just yesterday, but he said he would need to consult with his supervisor to determine how to make an accurate appraisal on all of that going forward,” Pettit said.

Pettit said the storm damaged her home’s foundation and she’s hoping FEMA can help offset any repair costs not potentially covered by insurance. However, FEMA isn’t going to make anyone whole.

“FEMA isn’t everything, but FEMA combined with you insurance, combined the work of nonprofit originations, may be able to help fill some of the gaps to help people with their recovery,” Mills said.

The site is different from Disaster Recovery Centers that went up after the flood of 2008. Because of COVID-19, it’s all done through the window of your car while wearing a mask. FEMA is urging people to register online or over the phone and only come to this in-person site if you need help uploading documents.

“You may also be asked to provide a utility bill or some proof of occupancy that you were living in your home at the time of the disaster,” Mills said.

FEMA is considering adding other centers in areas hardest hit, especially now that 10 additional counties are eligible for individual assistance for uninsured losses related to housing, medical bills, and even childcare. That is something Pettit said is needed in rural counties like hers.

“My husband and I are able to live in our home, but I know there are some people living in tents,” Pettit said.

The FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is located in the parking lot between Veterans Memorial Stadium and Kingston Stadium at 950 Rockford Road SW. It will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. It will be closed on Labor Day.

People interested in applying can register online at the agency’s website, or by using the FEMA Mobile App. Operators are also available for phone registration by calling (800) 621-3362 between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. every day.

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly named FEMA Spokesman John Mills as Troy Mills.

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