LITTLE AXE — The elementary school here was bustling with activity Monday as people dropped off donated supplies by the truckload for victims of last week's tornadoes.
Inside the gymnasium, now a disaster recovery center, Federal Emergency Management Agency workers helped displaced homeowners, renters and business owners with disaster assistance.
“It's a one-stop shop for people to come in and find out, whether it be local, state or federal assistance, what they need to do to apply and follow up on assistance,” said Tony Robinson, a FEMA regional administrator.
Robinson and representatives from state and local agencies were on hand Monday to discuss the opening day of the center, the first of its kind since the May 19 and May 20 twisters hit Little Axe and surrounding areas.
The center joins mobile locations in Moore, Shawnee, Carney and Luther.
“We're able to give those citizens what they need out here, and that's the people to talk to get the items necessary for recovery,” Cleveland County Commissioner Darry Stacy said.
To date, more than 4,600 people have registered for assistance with FEMA, which has approved more than $3.7 million in assistance, Robinson said.
Federal assistance available from FEMA includes loans up to $40,000 for renters and homeowners to replace damaged personal property such as furniture, clothing, appliances and uninsured vehicles, said William Koontz, a spokesman for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Loans up to $2 million are available for businesses and private nonprofits to replace damaged equipment and damaged or lost inventory, Koontz said.
A working capital loan exists for people who may have economic damage but not physical damage.
“They have reduced business because people are just not shopping,” he said.
The center offers people the opportunity to “rebuild and re-establish” themselves by bringing disaster-related services together with voluntary agencies such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross.
“We do know that this can be overwhelming … the application process” said Michelann Ooten, deputy director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. “We know that questions come up. Sometimes it just helps to sit down one on one with another person.”
To apply for FEMA assistance, call (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or go to disasterassistance.gov.