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FEMA Mobile Center Closes In Mamaroneck

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) mobile disaster recovery center closed Saturday after helping about 60 families impacted by Tropical Storm Irene at Harbor Island, including Valerie Johnston.

The Greenburgh resident has been living out of a hotel room with her three kids for more than one month since Irene made it uninhabitable.

"We're managing, but the kids want to know when are we going home," said Johnston, who chose finding a hotel over being placed in a shelter. "You don't understand when this kind of thing happens to you that you'll need somewhere to stay for a few months. You just don't."

The mental health worker for Westchester County first sought aid through FEMA while they were staying in White Plains in September. She received a $16,602 individual assistance grant for home repairs, which she used to hire a contractor that began Oct. 3.

While Johnston doesn't know how she is going to pay for the $1,100-per-week hotel room at the Greenburgh Comfort Inn she is focused, first and foremost on finding a more stable living environment for her children until their home is repaired.

In the meantime, she is applying for a Small Business Administration loan, which she needed some help filling out. She drove to the Mamaroneck FEMA location, where she said they were very helpful. The loan would pay for property damage incurred from the storm, including her carpeting and couch.

As of Friday, 1,965 people had registered with FEMA, and $3,324,712 had been administered for individual assistance grants in Westchester County alone. Of that, $3,186,940 was used for housing assistance.

State-wide, FEMA has administered $72,248,554, $67.9 million of which was for housing and $4.3 million was for other needs, such as property damage.

Although the mobile disaster recovery center is now closed, residents can still register and seek assistance through FEMA by calling 1-800-621-3362, or going online.

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