FEMA opens disaster recovery center in Brookport


Reporter: Mychaela Bruner
Photographer: Chad Darnall

BROOKPORT, Ill—Today is the first day victims of the Brookport tornado can register for assistance in person.  The November 17th EF 3 tornado killed three people and caused widespread destruction.

FEMA opened a disaster recovery center, or DRC, at the Brookport library in Massac County, Illinois for anyone who may be eligible for disaster aid.  The DRC is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

FEMA asks survivors to apply for assistance as soon as possible.  The federal DRC is located at the Brookport library on US 45 in Brookport, Illinois.

FEMA Public Information Officer Darrell Habisch said FEMA's mission is to help survivors in Massac and Pope counties recover and come back to a safe, secure and functional environment.

Shannon Farmer survived the November 17th tornado and said she is thankful for the federal assistance and can not imagine where she would be today without the support.

Farmer lived here on Unionville Road before the EF 3 tornado took almost everything from her. What is left of her home is now buried under snow.

"A house isn't anything but it sure hurts to drive by it everyday," said Farmer.

Farmer turned to FEMA for assistance.

"They said they would contact me within 5 to 7 days and it was within the hour, they called me back to have us meet with them down the street at where our house used to be and they were there," said Farmer.

Registration is important, that is the first step

Darrell Habisch with FEMA said now that a DRC is established at the Brookport library, it is time to register.

"We don't care how much or how little you make, the entire point of disaster recovery is to help you as a disaster survivor to return to a safe, secure and functional state," said Habisch.

For Farmer, FEMA's assistance is hope, an answer to her troubles and aid to help her get a piece of her life back.

Again, the registration only takes about 15 to 20 minutes.  When you apply, FEMA is asking you to bring your social security number, private insurance information, an address and directions to your damaged property, a phone number, an address where you can receive mail and a bank account if you want your disaster assistance funds sent directly.

Habisch also said to be cautious of scammers.  He said FEMA will only ask once for your private information.  The  DRC is located at the Brookport library and it will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.  To apply by phone, call 1(800) 621-FEMA or (3362).  For more information about FEMA, click here. To apply on your smartphone, click here.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, also known as SBA, is teaming up with FEMA at the Brookport library to also provide assistance for tornado victims.

SBA provides loans up to $200,000 dollars for homeowners.  Businesses may borrow up the $2 million for their uninsured losses.

SBA Public Affairs Specialist Jack Camp said so far they have received 1 thousand applications state-wide and 59 of those applications are from Massac County.

"In a disaster the SBA helps homeowners and renters as well as business owners who have been affected by a disaster. We are here in town with FEMA, we'll be here as long as FEMA's here providing assistance to the people who were affected by the tornadoes," said Camp.

The SBA offers low-interest, long-term loans for up to 100 percent of uninsured losses.  After SBA receives your application, you'll get an answer back in two weeks. For more information about the SBA, click here.