WASHINGTON - The state government opened three disaster recovery centers
Tuesday to help Maryland residents affected apply for government assistance.
Someone, however, forgot to tell the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency about a planned fourth center in Prince George's County.
"No, I only know about three centers," said Berton Blumenfeld, a
government liaison officer for the American Red Cross who traveled from New
Mexico to assist in the recovery efforts. "I guess I'm expecting a call."
FEMA spokeswoman Crystal Patton also said her agency was not aware of a
With the recovery process in full swing, agencies are discovering that
organizing efforts can be a bumpy process -- something that disaster-relief
pros said can be expected.
"This is a situation where things are happening so fast," said Norris
West, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources. "It's been
so busy. It's hard to nail things as originally planned."
Three of the four centers did open as scheduled, at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Besides offering FEMA and Red Cross representatives, those centers -- at 724
St. Ann St. in Baltimore, at 44 Calvert St. in Annapolis near St. John's
College and at 801 Back River Neck Road in Essex -- also have a catalog of
other agencies residents can turn to for help, including the Maryland
Insurance Administration and the state Department of Health and Mental
But in a Monday news release, the Human Resources Department said it was
helping plan the opening of four disaster recovery sites that would be up
and running by Tuesday afternoon. As late as 11 a.m. Tuesday, officials were
confident that the suburban Washington center would open as scheduled, even
though they still had not found a site for it.
By Tuesday afternoon, FEMA had taken the lead in organizing the centers.
Patton said the agency hoped to announce the location of the
Washington-area center -- which would serve residents of Prince George's and
Montgomery counties -- sometime Tuesday night. In the meantime, Montgomery
and Prince George's county residents who need assistance can call the Red
Cross at 1-866-GET-INFO.
The Department of Human Resources also had said that it would open a
total of 14 centers throughout the state by the end of the week and that by
Monday it would have seven mobile centers running.
West said Tuesday, however, that FEMA, the Red Cross and his agency might
scale back on the original plan.
For some, such missteps are to be expected in the recovery effort.
Blumenfeld has been to more than 40 disaster areas on behalf of the Red
Cross and said that the state should be proud of its efforts.
"Maryland is getting the job done," he said. "That makes what we have to
2003 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
Top of Page | Home Page