FEMA officials visit St. Joseph Co. to further assess flood damage
“I just noticed the water was upto the stairwell going towards the basement I thought… no heat, no water heater, nothing. Got to replace all of it. It was just crazy,” said William Hendricks, a South Bend resident.
Flood damage assessment continues across St. Joseph County. This time, Governor Holcomb has requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency to team up with St. Joseph County Emergency Management to help collect data on homes affected and get assistance for the county.
“Basically we are going to be visiting the hardest hit areas. We will be looking at individual properties as well as the community-wide,” said Rita Egan, Media Relations Specialist with FEMA.
The only problem..
“We’re almost at 700 homes affected that we know of, that have reported,” said John Antonucci, the Director of St. Joseph Co. Emergency Management Agency.
Many residents still haven’t called to report damage. FEMA officials say even if you think you can handle fixing flood damages on your own, it’s about getting help for the community as a whole.
“The bottom line is, this is your community and the recovery is in your hands. You have to get involved you have to report it if you want to support the community in this request for federal assistance,” said Egan.
EMA officials stress this is the next big step in getting help.
According to FEMA’s Disaster Declaration procedure plan, after disaster strikes, local government and emergency services work together first to protect the community’s health and safety. Once Governor Holcomb declared a State of Emergency, state emergency response plans were activated and support from FEMA was requested.
Now FEMA officials plan to take all of the information gathered about homes impacted so far, pass along a formal disaster declaration request to the governor, and asking for federal assistance from the president. But it all depends on the numbers.
“We’re 30 days into this event and we’re still getting significant damage. We did an assessment yesterday in Osceola.. significant damage. So, again, it imperative that you contact our office and report any damage that you may have,” said Antonucci.
“If anyone was impacted, whether it’s their vehicle or private property, to make sure they call in. Also businesses.. and whether it was an economic impact or physical damages,” said Egan. “Do not wait for anyone to start cleaning up. Start cleaning up, take pictures, contact your insurance company, look into flood insurance. This is the first step and you have to take part in that first step.”
For more information about flooding and estimates, click here.