Recovery program created

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer

Clovis Mayor David Lansford will unveil “Operation Disaster Recovery” at tonight’s Town Hall meeting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

Administered through United Way of Eastern New Mexico, the aim of the charity program is to fill in the gaps not met by state and federal programs for area residents and businesses recovering from the March 23 tornado that damaged about 500 structures and killed one resident.

“Through an organized process, volunteers and trained experts will match needs with resources in an efficient and beneficial manner,” Lansford said in a press release.

Local and state officials will also be providing updates on the tornado relief effort at the meeting.

Clovis and Curry County were declared a major disaster area Monday by President Bush, which makes residents, businesses and government agencies eligible for federal disaster programs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to set up an office in Clovis in the next few days.

Low-interest loans are available to renters and home and business owners affected by the tornado, according to Phil Duncan, a communication specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Loans can be extended to cover everything from lost personal possessions to structure replacement to lost revenue to businesses, he said.

“It’s an uncomplicated program that truly is designed to help disaster victims,” Duncan said.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission is also coming to the area to help residents understand their insurance policies, according to Juan Rios, consumer relations director for PRC.

“One of the things we find in situations like this is that people don’t necessarily understand what their policy says — we can help them do that,” Rios said. Though his agency cannot negotiate with insurance companies, they can go over policies and coverages with the insured.

PRC can request insurance companies justify coverages and claim decisions and can investigate cases where insurers are not adhering to regulatory laws and codes, Rios said.

A PRC tornado victim assistance office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Thursday at the Curry County Fairgrounds.

Meetings watch
Town hall meeting, 6 p.m. today, Clovis-Carver Public Library North Annex.

Assistance contacts
—Public Regulations Commission:
(888) 427-5772, 8 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Forms and answers to questions may also be found at: www.nmprc.state.nm.us

—SBA Customer Service Center: (800) 659-2955
www.sba.gov/localresources/disasteroffices/disaster_recov/
Loans for qualified applicants with up to a 30-year term at 2.875 percent interest for home owners and renters, 4 percent for business owners.

—Federal Emergency Management Agency:
(800) 621-3362. Victims must first call FEMA to be considered for all forms of disaster assistance.