Individuals Seek FEMA Help With Storm Damage; No Response Yet

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Emergency managers in Kanawha County say they've been flooded with calls from the hardest-hit households after the derecho, the freak storm that hit the region June 29.

They want FEMA to step in and help pay the structural repair bills, and many are frustrated that they haven't gotten a response yet. But there's a reason for that.

"At this time there is not assistance for individuals or households," FEMA public relations specialist Frank Blake said. "It's just for repair of public infrastructure."

Help may not be available for private households yet -- but all hope is not lost. Deputy emergency manager C.W. Sigman says he's been working with FEMA representatives who are visiting homes to assess damage.

They've passed on the assessments to the governor, who may then decide to request federal help. Sigman says whether or not the request is granted depends on the extent of the damage.

"We had three-fourths of the county out of power, but actually a very small part of the county had structural damage," he said. "I was out of power for eight days, but I didn't have structural damage."

Officials say your best bet is to contact your insurance company first and see what they'll cover. Then if FEMA help is approved for individuals, you can apply for that and get additional coverage.

"We can't double-pay," Blake said. "If you have insurance coverage, we need to know that. Then [FEMA] help can come above and beyond what the insurance companies will pay."

Officials say they've also taken lots of calls from people seeking reimbursements for the cost of lost food and generator fuel burned after the storm. But they say those types of losses will not be recouped.

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