FEMA sets up Fort Lauderdale station to help flood victims

South Florida residents still struggling with damage to their homes and cars after last month’s flood have another way to apply for financial relief: the Federal Emergency Management Agency has opened a temporary shop in Fort Lauderdale.

The FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at Hortt Park, 1700 SW 14th Court, is available to the public from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It launched on Monday and will remain for a time still to be determined.

“FEMA is working to meet survivors where they are,” said agency spokesman John Mills.

Residents with home or car damage that’s not covered by insurance can still apply for financial assistance online, but the relief centers are intended for those who “want to sit down with FEMA face to face and have a conversation one on one,” he said, adding that he expects additional locations “to be announced in the coming days.”

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Nearly 26 inches of rain fell April 12, damaging almost 1,200 homes in Fort Lauderdale and some surrounding areas, including northeast Hallandale Beach. The water shut down Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Broward schools for days.

Among the toll: A representative for Transportation America recently told Broward County commissioners they are operating shorthanded because dozens of vehicles used for paratransit for the disabled were flooded in Fort Lauderdale, at their parking lot near the airport. A county spokeswoman said Monday that 78 county vans were damaged, and another 60 cars belonging to transit employees were ruined in the parking lot.

Here’s what you need to know to apply for help:

  • Residents may apply for federal relief grants by calling 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or visiting DisasterAssistance.gov.

  • Applicants should be prepared for a spot visit by a contractor to verify damage before funds are provided. All contractors and FEMA crews will have identification, and will not ask for money.

  • Documentation is required to receive financial help.

  • FEMA Individual Assistance can help with temporary lodging expenses, basic home repairs and other essential disaster-related needs for those with damage to their homes.

  • Those seeking car help must be able to show that the damage has made the vehicle inoperable or unsafe to drive. The grant money may include repair or replacement of a vehicle. Assistance is usually limited to one vehicle per household.

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at lhuriash@sunsentinel.com. Follow on Twitter @LisaHuriash