It came right down to the wire.
Just one day before the disaster recovery center in Long Beach was set to close, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that they would keep the doors open for an additional 30 days.
“The disaster recovery center has been, and will continue to be, a critical resource for our residents,” said Gordon Tepper, Director of Communications for the city.
Last Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that disaster recovery centers in Long Beach and Freeport would close on Feb. 27. The Island Park site was to be the only area center to remain open, said FEMA spokesperson Ray Perez.
But on Tuesday, FEMA announced that, at the request of the state, it would grant a 30-day extension for survivors to register for federal disaster assistance, which can include money for rent, essential home repairs, personal property losses and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance. The new FEMA registration deadline is March 29, the same date to complete and return U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan applications.
Because of the deadline extension, FEMA said it saw a renewed need for the recovery center in Long Beach and declared that the ice arena site would remain open until March 27. SBA representatives will also remain at the Ice Arena to help applicants process their loan applications.
The Long Beach center is housed at the Recreation Center’s Ice Arena at 700 Magnolia Blvd., and served as a hub for the city’s relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the storm. It was opened on Nov. 3, just a few days after Sandy hit, and almost immediately, donations poured in from across the country. Residents came for hot meals, clothing and information. In the almost four months it has been in operation, the center has had about 13,100 visitors.
Perez said that FEMA collaborates with local and state government to determine whether the needs of an affected area have been met. They also monitor traffic at recovery centers. FEMA said that traffic at the two centers had slowed, leading to the initial decision to shut them down.