The Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Miami-Dade Disaster Recovery Center saw brisk traffic and short lines on Monday, the first day the location was open for business.
FEMA opened two centers, one in Miami-Dade and one in Sarasota County, following Hurricane Irma. Both locations are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
Ramdath Sookhai saw the sign for the program, located on Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus, when he was picking up his daughter from school.
He was off early from work — as a waiter at the Denny’s in Florida City near the Florida Keys exit — like he has been nearly every day since Irma hit. He is the sole provider for his family.
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The restaurant was without power (and closed) for 10 days and business is still slow, so Sookhai, 54, came to the FEMA location seeking financial aid.
“I’m looking for what help I can get in simple words,” he said. “I don’t really have anything to lose.”
Others in the quick-moving waiting room, like Odalis Martinez, had trouble with the online FEMA forms.
Martinez took off work early to look for help for her 85-year-old mother, whose roof was damaged in the storm. She has homeowner’s insurance, Martinez says, but no property insurance. She hoped FEMA workers could offer a solution.
Others, like Carlos Merino, were looking for small-business loans. His Hialeah-based powder coating business took a hit when Irma’s wind ruined some of his inventory.
The business table had a long line, so Merino said he would come back later that evening or the next morning to see what resources are available.
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” he said. “Some help.”