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Monday, Oct. 5, 2015

Disaster relief underway; FEMA reps in area

Monday, June 16, 2008

Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband and District 7 Task Force Administrator Melissa Buell look over a map showing flood damage in Clay County. [Click to enlarge]
Help is on the way for flood victims in Clay County, but people need to apply for it.

"Two Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA) representatives are assigned to our area, and they will be contacting victims who have already applied for assistance," Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband told The Brazil Times Monday. "They will be going around door-to-door passing out information and fliers for flood victims. FEMA reps do not ask for personal information and do not collect any money. The only other reason a FEMA rep will have to contact a homeowner is to schedule an inspection of damages."

District 7 Task Force Administrator Melissa Buell and Husband have been traveling throughout Clay County performing the countywide damage assessment, which is still in progress. Last week, members of the Clay County Sheriff's Department traveled all the roads throughout the county to help assess the damage.

Approximately 60 percent of the 700 miles of county roads have sustained some form of damage, with 30 percent of the roads having some form of severe damage. Damage to roads varied from being totally washed out with large holes left behind, while others sustained minor damages, like having the gravel washed away or portions of the pavement washed off.

Although 10 percent of the roads remain closed because of major damage, Husband said motorists should to be cautious while driving.

"Roads are still dangerous out there," he said. "The financial impact of this flood is huge."

Buell said flood victims should make sure they show all of the damage, no matter how minute, to the inspectors.

"Homeowners need to make sure that all damage is reported during their initial assessments and all of the official paperwork is filled out properly," she said. "We can't provide resources if we don't know what people need."

Husband said people should also report if they need food or assistance with replacing prescriptions.

"Our resources are limited, but we will get people the help they need," Husband said. "There have been some complaints from people about not getting any help, but, when asked, they admit to not asking for any help. We tried setting up a shelter, but no one came. We don't know where to send our assets if people don't let us know."

Officials say there are assets and resources available locally to help victims until the federal funding from FEMA arrives, but it's important that all flood victims report their damage.

The Presidential Disaster Declaration for Clay County would provide federal assistance to cover damages incurred by victims from May 30, with no end date established at this time. Even if victims have insurance coverage, Husband said they could be eligible for assistance to help with disaster-related needs.

"The most important thing a victim can do to help themselves is to go online at the FEMA website (www.fema.gov) or call the FEMA application number (1-800-621-3362)," Buell said.

"I hope that people realize that FEMA has guidelines that they have to follow and stay patient during the filing process. Resources are strained all around the state, there is flooded areas all around the nation," Husband said. "Their job is to help make sure that homes are returned to a livable condition. FEMA is here, and they're going to stay here until everything is done."

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