Three new disaster recovery centers will open this week to aid victims of the May 10-13 storms. The centers will be open seven days a week in Carter, Okfuskee and Seminole counties. Anyone who needs help or support is invited to stop by. Specialists from several agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration, will be available to answer questions, help with paperwork and provide information about other resources. The agencies offer a variety of disaster assistance to qualifying homeowners, business owners and renters.
"It's kind of like one-stop shopping,” said H.R. Holman, a public information officer for FEMA. He encouraged everyone who was affected by the storms to seek assistance. Nearly 1,200 Oklahomans already have registered for assistance from FEMA. Oklahoma County has had more than 350 applicants — the most of any county, said Brad Craine, a spokesman for FEMA. Officials expect about 3,000 people to seek help before the July 23 deadline. Sharing stories and talking face-to-face can be a comfort to people whose homes and lives were devastated by the storms, Craine said. He said emergency response workers from the different agencies work well together because they've had a lot of practice during recent years. Oklahoma had nine presidential disaster declarations in 2007 — the most of any state, Craine said. More recently, relief workers stepped in after Oklahoma was hit by severe winter storms earlier this year. "We want Oklahomans to know we're here working hand-in-hand to help them back on the road to recovery,” Craine said. So far, FEMA has approved about $1.5 million for disaster housing assistance for storm victims, Craine said.