FEMA opens disaster assistance centers for local flood victims

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The Federal Emergency Mangament Agency, FEMA, says it's already approved more than $30M for flooding victims in the Houston area, and that number continues to climb. FEMA is also opening up disaster assistance centers in impacted area to reach as many people as possible.

"23 years," Terry Owens says with a sigh. "This is the first time we've ever flooded."

But the morning of April 18th, Owens ended up with 8 1/2 inches of flood water in his house.

"All the floors floated up," Owens says, "and all the furniture damaged other than a few antiques that we were able to get up."

A quick look at Owens front yard tells you how bad it is. Their home is unlivable, and he is glad they contacted FEMA right away.

"We got about $3,300, I believe, total, to help with expenses," Owens tells Fox26. "That came in handy because with insurance, of course, we're still waiting to hear back from them."

It's been nearly 4 weeks since Katy and surrounding areas got 17 inches of rain overnight. But victims are still coming into FEMA's mobile disaster recovery centers like the one in Katy Park off of Morton Road.

FEMA can help with grants to help victims pay for short term living arrangements.

"We want to make sure that you, your children, and family members, are not living in mold and that you have the ability to get to work and back," says FEMA Spokesperson Darrell Habisch.

Habisch says FEMA and the Small Business Administration work hand in hand on disaster relief. Don't be thrown off by the name. The SBA also helps residents too with federal loans for damage not covered by insurance.

"For homeowners and renters theres $200,000 for real estate and $40,000 for personal property for uncompensated damange," says Burl Kelton, SBA Spokesperson. "For business, it's $2M, and that can include economic injury or business loss as a result of the storm."

FEMA urges people impacted to get into the system before the 60 day window runs out mid June. Once you apply, damage or expenses you find out about later can still qualify for help.

Owens highly recommends that.

"Definitely apply," he says, "and even small business loans we've put in for, we dont' know that we're going to need it because we don't know what the insurance will pay."

FEMA's mobile sites will be open for a limited time, but you can apply on the phone, or online disasterassistance.gov.