The long-awaited FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is open at 1604 11th Street in downtown Meridian. Complete with representatives from several governmental agencies, the DRC offers a one-stop shop for information for those who have suffered damage from Hurricane Katrina.
"If they've registered and they have a registration number and they have some questions about their application, they can call us or they can come here," said DRC manager Kati Corsaut. "And we'll look up their application on the computer and hopefully be able to answer their questions."
Those seeking assistance are glad to finally have a face to face meeting and answers to their questions.
"There is really a need and there's people that's really stressed out," said Meridian resident Rufus Griggs, who visited the DRC Friday. "And I hope and pray that it be done on an equal basis, that people that really need it can get the benefits, rather than those that don't need it, but it is a blessing to have it here and it's something that we've been waiting for a while."
Despite the appreciation, those trying to help face constant difficulties, because there never seems to be enough help to go around.
"Our mission is to make sure that every citizen that has suffered a loss get the things they need, because you know, they're never going to get back like they were," said MEMA director Robert Latham. "But we've got to give them something, to get back up on their feet and start over from this, and it's frustrating."
It's frustrating for Frances Smith, too. She's dislocated from her home in St. Bernard Parish, La., and although she knows that FEMA officials are trying to help, the help they're offering won't work for her unique situation.
"I don't know what to do," said Smith. "I don't know who to call, and every time you try to call FEMA you can't ever get through to them. And when you come to talk to them, these people don't know what's going on because they are all from out of state."
Even though there have been difficulties, FEMA officials say they are here to help. The Disaster Recovery Center will be open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.