People often go to the hardware store for supplies to build or fix their homes. This week, it’s also where crews with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are stationed to connect with victims of Southcentral Alaska's Nov. 30 earthquake.

Michelle Erickson visited Spenard Builders Supply on Tuesday. She says her home sustained about $55,000 of structural damage from the 7.1 quake.

“After the earthquake I was going, 'What's that noise?,' and it was the water in my boiler gushing,” Erickson told the FEMA employees.

Erickson says she already applied for FEMA assistance and received aid.

As of this week, FEMA has paid nearly $6 million to 2,687 applicants, according to agency spokesman Jack Heesch.

Construction worker Cody Williams says the disaster is keeping him busy.

“Broken foundations, crawlspace cracks, drywall cracks, collapsed garages, collapsed rooms, boiler heater leaks: you name it, the earthquake probably caused it,” Williams said.

While FEMA urges people to use a licensed contractor for big repairs, their specialists will be posted at hardware stores around Anchorage and Wasilla all week to give advice to those willing to take on do-it-yourself projects.

“We are giving them information on how to fix and build their house up stronger and safer for next time,” said FEMA specialist Sandra Wilson. “We have little tips like, for instance, child-proof your cabinet doors so that the doors won’t come sliding open, and how to put flexible pipe on your hot water tanks or your gas heaters.”

Wilson says FEMA is here to help people understand their options and be better prepared for the next time disaster strikes.

FEMA's workshops in Anchorage and Wasilla will take place from March 11 to March 16, at the following locations and times:

Spenard Builders Supply
4412 Lois Dr.
Anchorage, AK 99517     
March 11-16: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Home Depot
400 Rodeo Place
Anchorage, AK 99508     
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Home Depot
1715 Abbott Road
Anchorage, AK 99508     
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Home Depot
1255 E. Palmer-Wasilla Hwy.
Wasilla, AK 99654            
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

FEMA will be available to help people apply for federal assistance on-site. The deadline to apply for the help is Monday, April 1.

You can also apply for assistance by vising one of the disaster recovery centers in Anchorage, Eagle River, Kenai and Wasilla; going online to disasterassistance.gov or calling 1-800-621-3362.

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