Half of the disaster recovery centers in Richland County will close on Friday as federal assistance agencies continue to scale back operations in South Carolina.
Centers at 608 Main St. in Eastover and at 2850 Congaree Road in Gadsden will close at 6 p.m. Friday, while two more in Richland County will remain open as long as residents affected by the historic Oct. 4 flooding keep visiting them, disaster officials said.
Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration and South Carolina Emergency Management Division still are available at centers in libraries at 1431 Assembly St. and at 7421 Garners Ferry Road. A Lexington County center at 6251 St. Andrews Road near Irmo also remains open.
Disaster recovery centers gradually have closed in the three months after the storm as residents stop using them. Just 14 of the 32 original centers will be left after Friday, FEMA spokesman Carl Henderson said.
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The deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance was Monday, but disaster recovery centers that continue to receive visits will remain open to assist residents who already have registered for federal assistance, officials said. Centers close only after several days of minimal or no visits.
“We’ll see a peak, and then they’ll start dropping off,” Henderson said. “When they’re no longer needed, we’ll close them down.”
State emergency division spokesman Derrec Becker said closing centers is a good thing because it means the agencies have met the area’s need.
“DRC’s are designed to be temporary facilities to help people through their immediate, short term needs,” Becker said. “They’re not meant to be there forever.”
Help is still available for South Carolina residents who have registered with FEMA or applied for SBA loans.
FEMA’s helpline, 800-621-3362, remains open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and applicants also can visit disasterassistance.gov.
“We’re still going to be around,” Henderson said. “We’re just not going to be as visible as we were with these disaster recovery centers open. This process is going to go on a lot longer than people probably realized.”
SBA loan applicants still can visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or call the SBA’s helpline at 800-659-2955. A listing of open disaster recovery centers is available at http://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm.