FEMA inspects county flood damage; Explains how to get help

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Two employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Marshall County EMA director set out to inspect flood-damaged properties here on Saturday, the county EMA director said that morning.

"They're going around to see what they can do to help people," EMA Director Bob Hopkins said from his College Street office. "We've got nine places scattered throughout the county, some in the north end, some at Belfast and other places."

In response to a request from Gov. Phil Bredesen for federal assistance to Tennessee because of the deluge three weeks ago, Marshall County was on Wednesday added to a list of 45 counties declared disaster areas.

While no decision had been made by 10 a.m. Saturday on whether FEMA would establish a temporary office in Marshall County to help owners of flood ravaged properties, FEMA spokesman Cleo Howell was in Lewisburg Friday afternoon to report the agency is taking steps to help county residents.

A Disaster Recovery Center might be established in Marshall County, Howell said. But one has already been set up in Columbia in the Maury County Park. It's open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

Meanwhile, FEMA has Mobile Disaster Recovery Centers that are moving to and from various counties in Middle Tennessee, Howell said.

"We have motor homes with satellite connections," he said.

One was in Lawrenceburg on Friday. It was scheduled to be in Waynesboro on Sunday.

"We really encourage people to apply," Howell said Friday afternoon at the Tribune on the Lewisburg public square and before visiting Hopkins at the Hardison Office Annex.

"Anybody who suffered damage from the storm should apply," Howell said.

He directed readers to FEMA's web site: fema.gov with links to disaster declarations and the agency's toll-free phone number: 1-800-621-3362.

Grants of up to $29,900 may be awarded, but Howell cautioned that figure should not be seen as the amount the agency will award. A variety of factors are used when making a determination on what the government regulations allow when awarding grants for flood relief payments.

"Each case is treated on an individual basis," Howell said.

Speaking from his experience with previous disasters, Hopkins explained that federal help had been based on how high the water was in a house, but that was before FEMA became a part of the Department of Homeland Security.

For more on federal, state and local responses to the effect of heavy rainfall in Marshall County during April 30 through May 3, see previous stories on this web site.