With sweat dripping from his brow, Hugh O’Neil knocked on another door.
“Some of these people don’t know how to get the help they need,” said O’Neil, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) member. “That’s what we’re here for. We’re giving them the information they need in order to get help.”
FEMA members gathered from all over the country to help people who were affected by the recent flooding. O’Neil, a firefighter from Ohio, and his FEMA team member Jeanette Davis, a grandmother from Georgia, are one of many teams braving the summer heat to go door-to-door in Walton County.
“These people are very happy to see us,” O’Neil said. “Some residents are living in a home that isn’t functional — no running water or electricity. So we can get them signed up right at their door or look-up their case online to see where it stands. It helps cut down the waiting period.”
The team spends about 10 hours out of their 12-hour work day knocking on doors. Some doors never open, but the doors that do remind them why they’re here.
“We love what we do — we get to help people,” Davis said. “If we help just two or three people, we’re doing our job. It’s about quality, not quantity.”
Anyone affected by the flood can apply for disaster assistance online at www.disasterassistance.gov, via Smartphone at m.fema.gov or by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster recovery centers are now open in Okaloosa and Walton County, Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.. FEMA asks that you pre-register before visiting a center.