Assistance could come as early as next week

Staff and Wire Reports

Tornado victims in Quay and Curry counties could begin getting checks as early as next week to help with disaster-related expenses.

Issued through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the checks will help cover expenses such as clothing, medical costs, household appliances and tools, according to FEMA officials.

Gov. Bill Richardson signed an agreement Friday with FEMA clearing the way for federal money to flow to eligible residents.

“I want to encourage the residents to register even if they don’t feel like they might qualify,” Richardson said.

More than 200 people have already registered for assistance, but FEMA officials estimate there will be about 500 claimants.

According to Justin Dombrowski, FEMA coordinating officer, about $225,000 in claims has already been approved.

“We hope people will see those checks next week,” Dombrowski said.

Aid is continuing in Curry County through other agencies as well.

Volunteers and officials with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army have disbanded the Disaster Relief Center at the Curry County Fairgrounds to return to their separate offices.

Both nonprofits will be closed through the Easter holiday weekend, according to a news release.

Officials with the Salvation Army said household items, food and baby care items are available at the office, which is located at 317 E. Second St.

According to Mac McNell, Red Cross public information officer, client caseworkers will assist tornado victims from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Red Cross building located at 108 W. Second St.

McNell said 189 families or individuals have already registered, but he believes there are still families who haven’t sought assistance. “We (Red Cross) are still providing services 100 percent,” McNell said, “and we will stay two more months if needed to make sure everyone has been assisted.”

According to the Red Cross, documentation status has no impact on eligibility and is kept confidential.

Homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofits may also be eligible for low-interest, long-term loans from the Small Business Administration to cover losses such as personal belongings, damage to real estate, and economic injury because of lost business.

Residents may apply for assistance at disaster recovery centers in Clovis and Logan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Applicants for assistance can register with FEMA by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or (800) 462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing impaired between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Applicants may also register online at www.fema.gov