December 21, 2017
The Disaster Assistance Services Center (DASC) will close this Friday, December 22nd, at 3 p.m. The DASC is the Office of Emergency Management’s (OEM) longest running emergency operation, impacting all three divisions across OEM.
The DASC, located at the Rivera Recreation Center, 3201 N 5th St, was opened October 11th to meet the needs of Hurricane Maria disaster survivors who self-evacuated to Philadelphia from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to recover from the storm. As of close of business December 20, the center has assisted 1,952 clients across 875 families that have self-evacuated and then self-identified as needing assistance.
More than a dozen city, state, federal, volunteers, and non-profit organizations operated the DASC to provide disaster survivors help with registering for FEMA individual assistance, medical, mental health, material, housing needs, and more.
Pennsylvania was not declared a host state by FEMA. Without federal funding to run the assistance center and aid those displaced by Maria, the City relied on volunteers, nonprofits, City services and programs, community based organizations, and public-private partnerships to operate the DASC. This was the first time the City’s Office of Emergency Management has set up a recovery assistance center without a FEMA declaration in Philadelphia.
The week of November 12 was the busiest with 311 individuals visiting the assistance center. The assistance center has experienced a decrease in volume in the past month allowing a transition to online assistance. Individuals will continue to be provided aid online while allowing DASC volunteers, non-profits, and government agencies to resume day-to-day operations.
- FEMA’s Individual Assistance program is open through March 20, 2018 for people from Puerto Rico and January 8, 2018 for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Individuals can check their eligibility and also apply online or call 1 (800) 621-3362.
- For individuals considering self-evacuating Puerto Rico, consider visiting a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) before leaving. To date, there are 25 DRC’s in Puerto Rico. They can be located using FEMA’s website.
- Updated information regarding Hurricane Maria recovery is available on FEMA’s website.
- Transitional Sheltering Assistance is currently available to eligible survivors who are currently in the Continental United States. Under TSA, qualified disaster survivors may be eligible to stay in an approved hotel or motel for a limited period of time. TSA has been extended from Jan 13th to March 20th for those who remain eligible. More information and participating hotels are available here.
- Individuals seeking assistance or members of the public looking to help can find information on Unidos PR’PA’s website.