FEMA set up shop at Huntington Town Hall for two days starting Sunday. On Monday, a steady stream of people stopped by Room 114, which previously served as a charging station and office center for residents, to meet with Federal Emergency Management Agency workers to get help registering with the agency and get some questions answered.
“The most important thing is for people to register with FEMA,” Jan Freemond, the manager of the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. “They have 60 days from the disaster to register and they can do it" by phone or online, she said. "And people should not assume they are not eligible for help. You never know.”
Robert Heppenheimer, of Northport, stopped by to inquire about getting help to replace a portion of a staircase that leads to Crab Meadow Beach and a kayak rack, both owned by the Waterside Park Association.
“They said right now the focus is on individual homeowners,” he said. “They said coming down the road, there will be a lot of grants and we should look out for them.”
Other residents stopped by seeking help for food replacement, fire safety concerns and tree removal. Freemond explained that tree removal is not something FEMA gets involved in for the individual homeowner. She said FEMA primarily will be working to get residents help if their homes or the car they use to travel to work was damaged. Freemond referred folks to state and local officials, as well as churches and civic organizations, for help on other issues.
“We try to point people in the right direction if it’s something FEMA does not cover,” she said. “Sometimes people just need to talk to someone to help them get through a difficult time, we do the best we can.”
Warren Flamer, who lives on Asharoken Avenue, said he rode out the storm inside his rental home and watched as 4-to 10-foot waves crashed into his home, destroying furniture, a flat-screen TV and about $10,000 worth of tools. He said he moved into the house in March and did not have rental insurance.
“They told me there might be some programs for renters, but they didn’t have that information here so they gave me a number to call,” Flamer said. “At least it’s something. I didn’t know if they could help me so I just figured I would come. I’m glad I did.”
Phillis Burke of Northport said she had some trees down and minor damage to her home and was seeking help for that. She said she registered and was told to contact her insurance company and follow through later with FEMA.
“They’re trying to put people at ease,” she said. “A lot of people have suffered a lot of damage. It helps to be able to come and speak with someone.”
Next up for the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is Patchogue.