FEMA Disaster Recovery Center opens for Orange County residents

DRC opened Sunday at Barnett Park

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) opened Sunday at Barnett Park for Orange County residents to apply for aid and otherwise seek assistance after Hurricane Ian.

The DRC will be open daily for Orange County residents from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the park, located at 4801 West Colonial Drive in Orlando. County officials said the gates to the park will open at 7 a.m.

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According to a release sent by Orange County government, “The FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is partnered with local and state agencies to provide a one-stop shop for individuals or businesses that need help recovering from the storm.”

FEMA Spokesperson Jann Tracey spoke to what one could expect during their first time at the DRC.

“When you talk one-on-one with these representatives, they really know to ask the right questions and they really are here to help people and get them as much assistance as they can possibly get them,” Tracey said.

According to FEMA, the first step should be a call to your insurance company to file a claim, something that can be facilitated at the DRC. Otherwise, residents are asked to come prepared with their proof of a legal address that was damaged, insurance documents, social security number, phone number and the address where they’re currently residing.

“The trick to getting assistance fast is to have all of your documentation,” Tracey said.

Along with volunteer groups, representatives from state agencies, partners, and federal organizations will be available to provide individual and business assistance including but not limited to:

  • FEMA Individual Assistance
  • FEMA Mitigation
  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • Crisis Counseling
  • Florida Dept. of Children and Families
  • Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation
  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities

Shellie Harvey with SBA spoke to what applicants in her sector will encounter at the DRC; the administration as of Saturday had approved $3.5 million as it continued to process disaster loan applications, according to a FEMA news release.

“Once they complete their application, they will be assigned a case number and a loan officer to help them,” Harvey said.

Carver Shores resident Lisa Heard arrived looking for assistance after assessing roof damage to her home.

“I got all my paperwork, so (I’m here) just to see what they can do for me,” Heard said.

Eliu Lopez lives in Orange County, another one of the many people who showed up at Barnett Park on Sunday to get help at the newly-opened DRC.

“I just feel like maybe they can help replace the furniture that got messed up in the water,” Lopez said. “God is great and through him everything gets done, so we’re all good.”

Elsewhere in Central Florida, another DRC is open in Kissimmee at the Hart Memorial Central Library, operating daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

About FEMA: For information on Florida’s recovery from Hurricane Ian, visit fema.gov/disaster/hurricane-ian. Follow FEMA on Twitter at FEMA Region 4 (@femaregion4) / Twitter and at facebook.com/fema.

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About the Authors:

Jacob joined ClickOrlando.com in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.