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Disaster assistance center opens to help flood victims navigate maze of services

Disaster assistance center opens to help flood victims navigate maze of services
Residents and property owners sought relief and resources at the county's Disaster Assistance Center at Ellicott City's 50+ Center.

Thirty-six hours after floods washed away livlihoods of some shop owners and residents in historic Ellicott City, Jorge Canales was among the people stopping at a county Disaster Assistance Center, set up at the Ellicott City 50+ Center, where he picked up a bag of bottled water and food.

“The fact that I know I got some support today let me know everything was going to be OK moving forward,” said Canales, an employee at the Wine Bin, who wasn’t in Ellicott City during the 2016 flood. “I feel a little more confident.”

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Run by the county’s Department of Community Resources and Services, the center is a one-stop-shop for assistance and information from 20 county, state and federal agencies, according to Director Jackie Scott.

The Maryland Department of Labor offered a number of resources, including unemployment-benefits assistance, employee insurance advice and job-search assistance, Scott said.

The Department of Public Works answered property-related questions, including when access to buildings in the historic district would be allowed and status of roads.

Three hours after opening, the center had signed in 38 groups, including individuals, families and store owners, Scott said.

Two prime areas of need included housing and unemployment assistance.

The Department of Housing and Community Development is helping place people in an Extended Stay America hotel on Route 100 for the next week, according to director Kelly Cimino. So far, they've helped 20 individuals and families. In 2016, they placed 43 families in housing for three to six months.

Cimino said they're waiting on more word from officials about the state of residences and how much longer people need housing assistance. She said she hopes to have more information by Friday.

The center will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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