Disaster recovery center opens for ice storm victims

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2003

More help and hope is on the way for Lawrence countians victimized by last month's ice storm.

A disaster recovery center to serve recent ice storm victims has opened in New Boston. A collaboration of volunteer organizations is pledging help and wants to establish an on-going presence in Lawrence County. Local leaders met yesterday morning to talk about long-term assistance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and its Ohio counterpart have opened a disaster recovery center next to Wal-Mart in New Boston to serve storm victims throughout Southern Ohio.

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The center will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and

then will be open next Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.

After calling FEMA's help line at 1-800-631-3362, victims may speak face to face with a recovery specialist.

"So far, 92 have called that number," Lawrence County 911/EMA Director Don Mootz said. "Five hundred fifty people have called from a five-county area, so 92 is about average."

Mootz emphasized that FEMA help is not based on income level and that all people, regardless of how great or little their losses were, should call FEMA and at least apply for the assistance.

Ice storm victims could get even more help from a group of volunteer organizations. Mary Woodward, director of Southeast Ohio Ministries for Lutheran Social Services (LSS), visited with area leaders yesterday. LSS is a member of Volunteer Organizations Acting in Disasters (VOAD). Those agencies are seeking a long-term relationship with local agencies to help local entities with disaster recovery.

"Even if you have a disaster that is not declared (does not get a government disaster declaration), LSS can help," Woodward said.

Woodward stressed that people who would like assistance through LSS or VOAD must first apply through FEMA. Those who apply but are denied FEMA assistance may still get this private aid.

Meanwhile, representatives with VOAD, LSS, EMA, the American Red Cross, Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, FEMA, the Lawrence County Department of Jobs and Family Services, the Salvation Army and the Ironton City Mission met yesterday morning to establish a joint plan for meeting future disaster recovery needs.