MANATEE -- A disaster recovery center has opened at the Manatee County Convention Center to help residents learn more about financial assistance programs available if their homes or businesses were damaged by Tropical Storm Debby.
The temporary center is being run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, according to a county news release Monday.
"This allows people who have had damages and have pre-registered to come in and discuss with people from FEMA, and from the Small Business Administration and county departments on how they can receive assistance," said Steve Simpson, an officer with Manatee County Emergen
FEMA declared Manatee County property owners eligible for grants that can be used to help pay for damage, rental assistance if displaced by the storm, medical expenses, unemployment and transportation assistance, and other expenses caused by Debby.
Residents must register their losses with FEMA before requesting financial assistance.
Funds may be available to those who had damage not covered by their insurance, those who were underinsured, and those who did not have insurance at all, said Simpson.
For the most part, Manatee County property owners suffered minor damage, Simpson said. Some boats were damaged that had been the primary residence for some people in Bradenton Beach and they may be eligible for assistance, he said.
"This gives the opportunity to assist people with all those issues," he said. "We encourage people who have received damage from Tropical Storm Debby, flooding or wind damage, to register with FEMA and then come into the Disaster Recovery Center and see if they can be helped."
Nicholas Azzara, information outreach coordinator for Manatee County, said the county did not have an estimate on private property damage and that the center was created to help get a firm understanding of the damage.
Debby left an estimated $7.3 million in damage to public government facilities, with $7.1 million of that being beach-related damage, Azzara said.
The American Red Cross also will be at the convention center to help explain the financial programs and to help residents apply, the release said.
Residents can register their losses online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by calling 1-800-621-3362, through the FEMA app on tablets and smartphones, or at the mobile site m.fema.gov.
The Manatee County Convention Center is located at 1 Haben Blvd. in Palmetto.
Miriam Valverde, city hall reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024.