As FEMA deadline approaches, recovery slogs on
Posted June 17, 2011
Micro, N.C. — With only days remaining for people affected by tornadoes two months ago to apply for federal aid, many are still trying to recover from the storms.
Monday is the deadline for people in 19 North Carolina counties declared disaster areas following the April 16 tornadoes to apply for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
"If you suffered damage or loss as a result of the April 16 storms and haven't called FEMA, do it now," Michael Bolch, the agency's coordinating officer, said in a statement. "You can always update your insurance information, but if you're not registered by Monday, you won't be eligible."
More than 9,100 people have registered for disaster assistance so far, and state and federal officials have provided more than $15.2 million in recovery grants to homeowners, renters and businesses. State agencies and local governments received another $8 million in grants to pay for debris removal and infrastructure repair.
Tanya Nava is among those who sought FEMA assistance. A tornado blasted through the Beulah in the Pines mobile home park in Micro, knocking a pine tree through the middle of her home of seven years.
"Everything's gone," Nava said Friday as she surveyed the pile of rubble that remains almost eight weeks later.
"Then, when it rained and all the rain came in, it just poured down, so everything got mildew," Nava said.
FEMA officials said the home could be repaired and gave Nava $4,000 to fix it and another $1,000 to replace furniture, clothing and other items.
"I just figure you don't look gift horse in the mouth, so I'm not going to argue about it," she said. "I got what I got and did the best I could with it."
Nava, her husband and three teenage children didn't qualify for a disaster loan because of a poor credit history, so they rented another mobile home in Beulah in the Pines. She said it's still missing the necessities.
"We're all sleeping on the floor," she said. "I did get some $10 air mattresses, but they were terrible. I think (my children) were using them as pillows."
Nava emailed WRAL News after her story aired Friday. "Someone heard you on the radio and came out here. So now one more child will have a bed and a dresser," she wrote. "Thanks from all my family and my heart."
As images of the tornadoes' devastation fade over time, Nava said, victims like her family continue to struggle through as assistance efforts decline.
"Most (aid workers) have already packed up and gone," she said. "They figured they'd helped and they did. They were out here helping every day – there were so many people – but they think it's all over with now, and it's not."
FEMA officials said they will continue to provide assistance after Monday to people who call 800-621-FEMA or visit the agency's website. But the assistance will be in the form of directing people to churches and nonprofits that can help and not in any monetary grants.