FEMA disaster centers in Groton, Old Saybrook to close this week

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Recovery Centers in Groton and Old Saybrook will close this week.

Since its Nov. 3 opening at the Groton Senior Center in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, FEMA officials said they have had 297 visitors inquiring about and applying for assistance. That number is second only to the center in Bridgeport.

The majority of people who came to the Groton center have applied for assistance related to damage from flooding or wind-driven rain, said Annie Donovan, a FEMA hazardous mitigation specialist.

The center, at 102 Newtown Road, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Wednesday. Claims still can be filed by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Association will remain at the senior center to provide information regarding disaster loans. Information about SBA programs is available at www.sba.gov.

In Old Saybrook, the Disaster Recovery Center at the Department of Police Services will close on Saturday, Dec. 8. The center on 6 Custom Drive has received 212 visits from residents since it first opened on Nov. 3, according to Paul Martucci, the FEMA center manager. The total visit number represents each time a new or returning visitor has come to the center.

The majority of cases seen at the Old Saybrook center consisted of flood damages, said Martucci.

Visits to the center have dwindled recently. The center was seeing daily visit numbers in the “teens” for the weeks after Hurricane Sandy, but numbers have been in the single digits for the past week and a half, said Martucci.

The face-to-face discussions at the center can help clear up questions, such as the difference between filing procedures for FEMA assistance and flood insurance, according to Martucci.

“We’re an advocate for the applicant,” he said. “We’ll do what we can to get them the benefits they’re entitled to.”

The Old Saybrook center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday this week. On Saturday, it will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., when it will shut down, said Martucci.

A total of 10,439 people in Connecticut have registered with FEMA, according to Martucci. The deadline to register for FEMA assistance is Dec. 31, according to a FEMA press release.

g.smith@theday.com

k.drelich@theday.com

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