FEMA closing RGV Disaster Recovery Centers

LA VILLA — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is closing its Disaster Recovery Center locations in the Rio Grande Valley after providing support since July.

“We are closing the Disaster Recovery Center in La Villa, and (Wednesday) we’re going to close the one in Raymondville, and on Thursday we’re closing the one in La Feria,” Said FEMA media specialist Maria Prado. “Even though we are closing, survivors can stay in touch with FEMA through the internet and by phone if they want to check the status of their application and do any updates to their contact information or their own application.”

The three Disaster Recovery Center locations opened in late July after a torrential rainstorm caused millions of dollars in flood and wind damage in June. FEMA was able to open the locations after President Donald Trump declared Hidalgo, Willacy and Cameron Counties disaster areas.

“Anytime there is a disaster, the local officials, if they think they cannot handle the disaster, they ask for aid through the state,” explained Prado. “The state, if they think they will need more help, they will go to FEMA. They submit a disaster declaration to the president, and he will decide whether he will sign a presidential declaration or not.”

According to Prado, FEMA has received approximately 8,018 applications following the storm. Of those applications, 5,260 were accepted, resulting in at least $23 million in aid for the Rio Grande Valley.

The DRC locations were opened in La Feria on July 22, Raymondville on July 23 and La Villa on July 24.

Prado emphasized the importance for local residents to have flood insurance.

“When they have flood insurance, they don’t have to wait for the presidential declaration, and they can get more money if they have damages” Prado said. “For this disaster, we paid more than $43 million for the National Flood Insurance Program for the three counties. When people buy flood insurance, it takes a month for the flood insurance to kick in.”

The deadline to apply for disaster relief through FEMA was Sept. 16. The DRC in the city of La Feria will transition to a U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Outreach Center as of Friday. Businesses have until March 17, 2020, to apply for economic injury disaster loans.