Home visit from FEMA changes opinions in Central

Monday, September 24, 2012 - 12:30pm

Residents of Central like the fact that their town is quiet. But in the aftermath of a storm, quiet can often lead to overlooked.

East Baton Rouge Parish (along with East and West Feliciana) was one of the last parishes to be designated for FEMA assistance. As a result, people like Tammy Browning weren't even going to bother registering for assistance.

"No, I was not," said Browning. "Because I figured we didn't didn't have a shot at it, you know."

But Browning, and lots of other people, are able to get help they thought was unavailable. And FEMA wants to make sure they get what they're eligible for. That's why 250 FEMA representatives are on the streets, going to every house.

"I was very, very surprised to see them just knock on my door out of the blue like that," Browning said.

The two FEMA community relations specialists talked to Browning about the damage at her house, her insurance coverage, and some of the government loans she could apply for. They also tried to dispel some of the myths Browning had about FEMA.

"I always think, FEMA, very low income, stuff like that," she said. "But they said that's not always the case."

If residents were not home when they came by, the FEMA representatives left a flier (in both English and French) with important phone numbers to call. But the resident was home and had concerns about the application process, FEMA would often schedule a return trip to that house.

"We'll do a follow-up and see if the issues that they brought up to us have been handled," said Brian Kevwitch, a FEMA reservist from Missouri working in Central. "Or we'll watch our reports, how they come down all the channels, as well, seeing if it's being addressed."

FEMA believes there are lots of people around the parish with questions about applying for aid, and the agency wants to hear them all.

"They were very informative," Browning said. "They left information, told me how to go about anything that I need, if I need something, so I was glad to see them."

FEMA says it has already promised more than $85 million for individuals around Louisiana.

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