FEMA, Denton County open ‘one-stop shop’ for storm recovery


Residents can get help with emergency loans, document replacement, debris cleanup and mental health care at Butterfield Elementary School in Sanger.

SANGER, Texas — The Denton County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will each open resource centers at Butterfield Elementary School in Sanger for those affected by severe weather in May. 

FEMA workers will staff tables in the school’s cafeteria from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the next 30 days. The county will host nonprofits in the school’s gymnasium this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

The school will serve as a ‘one-stop shop’ for disaster recovery, officials say. 

“Instead of making individual appointments and prolonging this experience, they can handle it all in one day at one place,” said Paige Saucer, Denton County senior emergency management specialist.

At the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in the cafeteria, residents can meet, one-on-one, with representatives from FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration to get help applying for assistance or emergency loans.

Debbie Hubbard, a Pilot Point resident, visited Wednesday for help replacing her trailer damaged during the May 25 tornado.

“We thought we were going to wind up in Oz,” she said. “My son’s bedroom wall was so wet, you’d touch it and make a hole in the wall. It was horrible.”

She is now living in a Red Cross shelter, though she and her son face homelessness without further assistance. Hubbard’s case is especially complicated, she said, because the trailer was leaking and moldy before the storms. 

Hubbard says she did not know the trailer was damaged when she bought it. The dealer who sold her the home will not provide her the documents she needs to prove she owned the trailer and will not return her calls, Hubbard said. 

“It might take eight months to get all this finalized,” she said. “I don’t know how it’s going to work out. We may have to go to court.”

But Hubbard said she was grateful she could meet, in person, with a FEMA representative to explain her case. She said the process would be “even more so” complicated if the agency had not opened the Disaster Recovery Center. 

“I have been so impressed with everybody,” she said. “I have never seen such an outpouring of love and care. Never in my life. It makes me want to cry.” 

Later this week, the Denton OEM will open a Multi-Agency Resource Center in the school gymnasium. For three days, non-profit workers there will help solve residents’ more immediate problems.

At one booth, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas workers will help people who’ve lost important documents or need to replace IDs. The Red Cross will also staff a table for those who need help replacing essential belongings or need shelter. Denton County MHMR staff will also be at the center, available to connect people experiencing emotional trauma with mental health counselors. County officials there can also help residents who still need help clearing debris from their property. 

Saucer said the event also gives people an opportunity to establish relationships with non-profits who also provide long-term assistance.

“It’s not just ending here,” she said. “They can have that relationship and build toward the future, when they still need help.”

Denton County’s Multi-Agency Resource Center will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Anyone interested in donating to recovery efforts in Denton County should visit the United Way’s website, here