For some who were affected by the storms that tore through Middle Tennessee in March, life still hasn’t returned to normal almost a month later.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Survivor Assistance ground crew was in Macon County for six days to offer assistance to those in need. After a disaster happens, the governor of a state makes a request for assistance. That request is then brought before the president, who can make a disaster declaration.
“We have teams going around to each of the declared counties,” FEMA Public Affairs Specialist Kim Keblish said. “It was just a natural step to go to Macon to help folks who need to register for assistance.”
Residents of Macon County who have uninsured or underinsured damages from the late March storms can apply for assistance through FEMA online at DisasterAssistance.gov or through the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362.
Macon County and the other nine counties that received disaster declarations all experienced damage between March 31 and April 1 from tornadoes, straight-line winds and other severe weather.
“It’s FEMA’s mission to support people before, during and after disasters,” Keblish said. “We place FEMA personnel and assets where the need is identified. That’s usually identified by the state that we’re supporting.”
Crew lead Nakia Johnson has been going door to door with the Disaster Survivor Assistance ground crew in Macon County.
“In Macon County, we followed the line of the tornado and path (of the storms),” Johnson said. “In a lot of areas, we saw damage to trees and barns. We did see some homes that had some damage as well.”
The crew has been speaking with residents in order to see what assistance is needed.
“They may even direct us to their neighbors, who they know have had substantial damage,” Johnson said. “They’re stating that they’re okay, that it was just a tree or a fence, but they will provide us with information about other parties that may need assistance. That has been great (to see) that everybody has been working together.”
In addition to speaking with faith-based communities, FEMA has spoken to approximately 140 people in Macon County. Of those individuals, there’s been 10-20 people that have requested assistance.
“We’re able to assist them with (relief) registration,” Johnson said. “We can do that right then and there if they don’t mind doing it with us. We also have a 1-800 number for disaster assistance, or they have the option to apply online if they have the technology to do so.We also provide any local referrals that they need. If they need food or clothing, the community helps out a great deal.”
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