Three St. Petersburg men, in partnership with NAACP St. Petersburg, have cobbled together a FEMA Disaster Recovery Registration site to help residents sign up for benefits that can help them seamlessly move past Hurricane Irma.
The site, at 6090 Central Ave., is up and running now and will continue until 9 p.m. Because response has been so overwhelming, one volunteer told Sunshine State News, the opportunity will be repeated Thursday evening between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
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Businessman and Rowdies owner Bill Edwards, state Rep. Wengay "Newt" Newton, D-St. Petersburg, and former mayor and mayoral candidate Rick Baker believe their hour-of-need, people-helping-people effort could and should be duplicated in towns and cities across the state where power and Internet are not yet fully restored.
“Rick Baker came to me with a need,” said Edwards. “We were spared the worst of Irma, but people in St. Petersburg are still hurting and in need of assistance. Without power or Internet, it’s impossible. I am happy to open my doors to give people the chance to apply for aid. The sooner people get help, the sooner they can get their lives back to normal, and that’s what we are all hoping for.”
The site has power, multiple computers with Internet access and limited phone charging stations. Volunteers are on hand to assist residents with the registration process.
Heavy’s Food Truck has been providing free hot meals and will continue until the food runs out. In fact. as the night wound down, the NAACP's Maria Scruggs reported more than 400 people showed up for FEMA help and Heavy's fed more than 300 of them.
Registration is estimated to take about 20 minutes and, according to the press statement about the sign-up, residents need to have the following information to complete the registration application:
Social Security Number (SSN)
- The primary applicant’s Social Security number or
- The SSN of a minor child in the household who is a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National or Qualified Alien.
- Family's total gross household income at the time of the disaster.
- Address and phone number of damaged dwelling.
- Current mailing address and phone numbers where you can be contacted.
- Identify the types of insurance coverage you have.
Electronic Funds Transfer/Direct Deposit Information
If you are determined to be eligible for assistance and would prefer funds be transferred directly to your account, you must provide the following banking information:
- Institution name
- Type of account (checking or savings)
- Routing and account numbers
If you do not have a formal bank account and routing number, you are still eligible to receive FEMA funds via a traditional mailed check.
It may take several weeks for FEMA to process your application. Renters, homeowners and businesses are eligible. If applying for both home and business disaster assistance, complete one registration to cover both.
Former mayor Baker and Edwards have become close allies. While in office, Baker spearheaded efforts to revitalize the Midtown area, the city's poorest region. Baker lauded Edwards for supporting those efforts. In December 2012 the former mayor left his $250,000-a-year job as vice president of economic development at the University of South Florida to become president of the Edwards Group, a St. Petersburg real estate company.
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