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FEMA Denies McDonald County Individual Assistance After Flood - KOAM TV 7

FEMA Denies McDonald County Individual Assistance After Flood

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Flood victims in McDonald County, Missouri get news that they won't receive individual assistance from FEMA. After last month flooding, many roads were washed out and homes damaged, but FEMA says people without flood insurance will not be eligible at this time.

The beginning of August was a rough time for many counties across the state, especially for those in McDonald County. The Governor applied for Federal help, but after reviewing the requests, FEMA says McDonald County will receive assistance to aid with roads and bridges, but will not offer funding to individual residents.

 

"There are other disasters in other counties, but we're important too."
 
This was the reaction of Joe O'Brien when he found out FEMA denied him, and others like him, from receiving any kind of individual assistance after last months floods. O'Brien says his house was flooded to his knees when rising waters broke down his garage door and entered his home.

"You think you've lost your mind or this really isn't happening. This has to be a dream," O'Brien said.
 
His home is fully covered, except for flood insurance. Since he doesn't live in a flood plain, he says it didn't even cross his mind in the 16 years he's owned the home. Now over a month later, he's out a home and a car with no help on the way.

"The loss also includes a car, anything that was in the garage, lawn mowers, weed eaters, things you don't even think about until they are in a dumpster or they don't work," O'Brien said.
 
O'Brien says water levels on his property got above about 12 feet above what they normally are, and that it all originated from a tiny creek behind his home that isn't even ankle deep. And McDonald County's Emergency Management says O'Brien isn't the only one hurting.
 
"Our homeowners, our residents, you know they need all the help they can get, it's a bad economic time anyway, and you add this flood on it, and they can't get no assistance, to help them out, it hurts us, it really does," said Gregg Sweeten, Director of McDonald County's Emergency Management.
 
Sweeten says between public roads and private homes, McDonald County sustained  major damages. And O'Brien says his home alone will cost thousands to repair.

"It may take months, or it may take a year, but we'll get it put back together," O'Brien said.

According to FEMA, the Governor's office has 30 days from September 10th to appeal the decision.  And O'Brein says he hopes he does. 

McDonald County will receive Public Assistance from FEMA, which means that several of the area roads and bridges still affected by the flooding will get fixed. The Governor's office tells us it is still considering whether to appeal the decision concerning private property.


FEMA's Response: 
According to a letter from Joseph Nimmich, Associate Administrator for FEMA's Office of Response and Recovery:

"The damage to infatuation was significant in the areas designated for Public Assistance. However, based on our review of all the information available, including the result of the joint federal, state and local government Preliminary Damage Assessment, it has been determined that the damage to the dwelling from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of individual assistance under FEMA-4144-DR. Therefore your request for Individual Assistance for Barry, Camden, Dallas, Dent, Gasconade, Laclede, Maries, McDonald, Miller, Morgan, Osage, Ozark, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Taney, Texas, and Webster Counties is denied."

When asked what FEMA considers in deciding who gets Individual Assistance, FEMA gave us this list:

- Amount and type of damage (number of homes destroyed or with major damage);
-Impact on the infrastructure of affected areas or critical facilities;
-Imminent threats to public safety and health;
-Impacts to essential government services and functions;
-Unique capability of Federal government;
-Dispersion or concentration of damage;
-Assistance available from other sources (Federal, State, local, voluntary organizations); to include Insurance.
-State and local resource commitments from previous, undeclared events; and
-Frequency of disaster events over recent time period.

 

 

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