TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened its Unemployment Assistance Program that will repay workers the money they lost from losing work during the flooding in several California counties, including Tulare and Mariposa counties.

This also includes people who were unable to make it to work because of flooded roads.

One of FEMA’s assistance centers is open in Farmersville, right next door to the Farmersville City Hall. They say it is a hub for all questions and concerns from the recent flooding we had in Tulare County.

There is also a mobile assistance center in Orosi. Some business owners, however, are still recovering.

“Still putting together everything that I lost, I’m not done yet, but I need to throw it out,” said Jose Lopez.

We spoke with Jose Lopez, the owner of Los Valles Sales, for the first time since the Major Disaster Declaration was signed by President Biden on April 3rd.

His shop was heavily impacted by the flooding of the Tule River in mid-March.

“It wasn’t our fault, but all of it was good and clean, and we lost it,” he said.

Lopez rents the property his pottery shop sits on. He was fearful that because he is a renter, he wouldn’t be able to get assistance for his shop or get assistance for the thousands of dollars he lost.

“I put it at 700 dollars [I’ve lost] every week,” said Lopez.

“If their [work] shifts, hours their businesses or if they lost their jobs, they can fill out an application directly with the state,” said Arlene Diaz-Correro with the External Affairs department within FEMA.

Diaz-Correro feels Lopez’ situation falls in line with their unemployment assistance program.

FEMA has been in Tulare County since early April. So far, they say they’ve helped the most heavily impacted parts of the state with $13.7 million dollars, through grants or loans.

“For their inventory, for their processes that ended in economic loss due to the storm. We do offer low-interest rate loans,” said Mary Branfield, a Public Information Officer with the SBA.

For Lopez, however, he says whether the help comes to fruition or not, he’ll continue to move forward.

“Angry? No, I’m not angry, if they want to help, it’s their decision I say,” Lopez said.

The deadline for the Unemployment Assistance is May 15th.

The deadline for a disaster-related Small Business Loan is June 2 for physical damage and June 3 for economic damage.

The help center has no end date as of yet. FEMA plans to have it opened until it is no longer needed.

There are a number of FEMA assistance centers available with in-person help with applications in English y en Espanol.

Officials suggest people get their applications in as soon as possible and to bring as much documentation as they can. U.S. citizenship is not always needed. They are helping anyone affected by the flooding.

If approved, officials say people have up to six months to decide whether or not they need the assistance.