What to Expect from FEMA

By Matt Markham

September 23, 2011 Updated Sep 23, 2011 at 6:31 PM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Two new disaster relief centers have opened in the Southern Tier.

They are located at the Broome County Library on Court Street in Binghamton and the Health and Human Services Building on Route 38 in Owego. They are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Action News visited the Owego location to find out what people are asking FEMA for, and what they can get.

"We lost everything we had in the flood -- I mean, totally everything," said Randy Harper of Owego.

Harper doesn't have much now. He doesn't have flood insurance either. But, he's here with a lot of questions.

"Basically, to find out all the information I can from FEMA," Harper said.

He's hoping for help with a few things. "My furniture, the beds, the refrigerator, the washer and dryer, the freezer."

FEMA inspectors will go out and report back to the agency and you should get a letter or a check within a week.

But...you may also hear you're ineligible.

"It can come down to something as simple as, they may have insurance and at this point, their insurance settlement hasn't been reached," said Sarah Olson, FEMA public information officer.

That's one of the reasons these relief centers are open.

"It's so important for us to get out the maximum assistance we can to the maximum amount of individuals within the confines of the law," Olson said.

The Owego location is most central to Tioga County. Temporary housing and repair assistance is available but should be understood as only "assistance."

"FEMA's here to help get people on their feet to begin the recovery effort, but we're not going to be able to make them whole again," Olson said.

Regardless of how much money residents here get from FEMA, they're committed to two things: rebuilding and remaining America's coolest small town.

The disaster relief agency is in danger of losing funding and sparking a government shutdown if a solution isn't reached soon, by the end of the weekend.

FEMA assures, as do lawmakers, that anyone who qualifies for federal assistance will receive it.

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