WAUCHULA, Fla. (WFLA) – By mid-afternoon Monday, approximately 250 people sought post-Hurricane Ian assistance from FEMA at a brand new Disaster Recovery Center in Wauchula.
The center is at the Wauchula Civic Center and is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
It is the second to open in the Bay area, after one opened in Sarasota County last week.
“They’ll be able to begin the application process so then that gets them in. That’s the first thing that’s necessary is you get that application process started, that gets you your registration number and that gets you on the path to recovery,” said Bruce Bouch, media relations specialist for FEMA.
Along with FEMA, officials from the Small Business Administration, county and state agencies were also on hand at the center.
Dereus Defrand brought pictures of the damage to his roof.
He was sleeping in his bed during Hurricane Ian when a tree crashed on top of him.
“Tree come down, boom, on my house,” he said. “I lose my bed. I lose my clothes. Everything’s gone.”
A leak sprung in Mario Tevino’s roof in the same spot it did after Hurricane Charley.
“There was a lot of rain that came through Wauchula,” pointed out reporter Staci DaSilva.
“Yea, we got a lot of it inside our house,” said Tevino.
He opted to come speak to someone from FEMA face-to-face rather than try to apply online.
“If you do it in-person, you know it’s being done right. If I do it online, who knows how it will turn out?” he said.
Officials advise people to bring documentation with them regarding their address, social security information and pictures of damage.
If documents were lost to the storm, FEMA can find other ways to verify information.
“Flooding of course is a major factor because you have mold recovery that has to be done so any of those factors are what allows you to become part of the process,” said Bouch.
Three hundred dollar stipends from FEMA are available to purchase materials for cleanup.
“Those come pretty quickly,” said Bouch.
Bernestiene MCCloud was there to find out if she could get a refund for the gas she used to power her generac after the storm.
“I don’t want to complain because my neighbors and everything, they had it worse than we did. I just thank God we all made it,” said McCloud.
Other FEMA centers are operating at:
Home Depot, 12621 S McCall Rd, Port Charlotte, FL 33981
Veterans Community Park, 1895 Veterans Park Drive, Naples, 34109
Lakes Regional Library, 15290 Bass Road, Fort Myers, FL 33919
Fort Myers DMS Building, 2295 Victoria Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33901
Barnett Park, 4801 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32808
Hart Memorial Central Library, 211 E. Dakin Avenue, Kissimmee, FL 34741
Shannon Staub Public Library, 4675 Career Lane, North Port, FL 34289
All centers are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
It is not necessary to visit a center to apply. Survivors can go online to the FEMA website, use the FEMA mobile app or call 800-621-3362.