BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON
HERE TO HELP — Although weeks and months have passed since hurricanes Ian and Nicole battered Florida and Volusia County, the rebound is ongoing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is taking applications from Volusians and others for disaster aid. The temporary FEMA disaster-recovery center at The Center at Deltona, 1640 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., will be open at least through Jan. 21, but the deadline for applying for Ian-related aid from FEMA is Jan. 12. From left in this photo are Allen Pitts, manager of the recovery center; Anne Forman, Hazard Mitigation and Community Education; Kelly Taylor, Hazard Mitigation and National Flood Insurance Program; and Assistant External Affairs Officer Alberto Pillot.

While the damage caused by hurricanes Ian and Nicole is still evident, and the memories are still fresh, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has established a go-to place in Deltona for those affected by either or both storms.

“This is the mobile recovery center,” FEMA Assistant External Affairs Officer Alberto Pillot said, regarding the agency’s temporary office in The Center at Deltona, 1640 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. “We’re here to work with the survivors of Ian and Nicole.”

Pillot added the FEMA disaster-recovery center will be open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Jan 21. That time may be extended later, Pillot said. The FEMA center in Deltona will be closed Monday, Jan. 16, in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a federal holiday.

As housing continues to be a primary issue for many in Deltona, Pillot said 215 households are in the agency’s “transient shelter program,” meaning they are now living in hotels or motels pending the repair of their homes or finding new permanent dwellings. As many as 117 households may be eligible to move into FEMA-provided mobile homes, which may soon arrive and be parked next to their damaged quarters. Pillot could not say when the FEMA mobile homes may arrive in Deltona.

Those who wish to apply for FEMA’s help in recovering from Hurricane Ian must do so no later than Thursday, Jan. 12. People seeking FEMA aid for recovery from the effects of Hurricane Nicole have until Feb. 13 to apply.

“Homeowners need to call their insurance company first,” Pillot said. “If they are denied any insurance claims, they need to bring the determination letter so that FEMA can assist them.”

“FEMA is the kick-start to their recovery,” he continued. “We are an immediate-needs agency. If you have already repaired [your home], save the receipts and documentation to justify the damages.”

Thus far, Pillot said, a total of 64,408 people in Volusia County have applied for assistance from FEMA, and the agency has disbursed some $77 million in housing grant assistance to the Volusia victims. That number, he noted, will increase.

The FEMA center in Deltona also has on hand representatives of the U.S. Small Business Administration, which may also provide aid to individuals and households, as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations.

While she could not say how many businesses in Volusia County have actually applied and been approved by the SBA for loans, SBA Public Affairs Officer Monica Myles said the agency has given out more than $82 million in loan assistance related to Hurricane Ian. Of that number, some $7.5 million has been lent to businesses and nonprofit organizations, and approximately $77 million has been extended to homeowners and renters. The housing options may not be limited to conventional single-family homes and apartments.

“It could be a boathouse,” Myles said.

Asked about the borrowing cost, the typical interest rate for a loan from the SBA is 3.04 percent, she replied. The loan may be for as few as seven years and as long as 30 years.

“There is zero-percent interest for the first year, and the first payment is due one year after the loan documents are signed,” Myles told The Beacon.

The number of businesses, nonprofits and households that have applied for SBA loans is not available.

Those wishing to register for FEMA disaster assistance may do so by visiting the FEMA center in Deltona, by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov, by calling 1-800-621-3362, or by downloading the FEMA mobile app.

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