FEMA

The damage from Hurricane Harvey is expected to exceed $150 billion and the same may be true after Irma has her way with the Florida peninsula.

Just under $600,000 has been paid to victims of the 2017 flooding in Franklin County and major disasters elsewhere in the country won’t affect continuing aid.

Franklin County EMA Deputy Director Stephanie Norton said the recovery process is going well, but victims still have a few needs.

In the aftermath of the flooding in mid-June there were eight agents from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Franklin County assessing damage. Now, there is only one in the immediate area.

“There are FEMA agents we will be working with to the end of the recovery process,” Norton said. “Many moved on to Texas and Florida, but it will not affect our recovery.”

Norton added the recovery process will last many years and they are still working with one family who lost their entire home in the 2015 flooding.

As for 2017, no exact monetary value has been put on damages, but there were 129 families, or 354 individuals, who passed through the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) to receive aid from FEMA or other charitable organizations offering help.

As of the FEMA registration deadline in late August, there were 154 registrations with FEMA made in Franklin County, but Norton added residents from neighboring counties could have registered here and vice versa.

Ongoing 

The maximum FEMA payment allowed to each family is $33,000.

Norton said many victims here did not have flood insurance and were low-income households.

Currently, Norton and others in the long-term recovery group are awaiting a state grant to pay for case managers for the remaining victims to assess what the local charitable organizations may be willing or able to give.

“The case managers will assess if the victims have jobs, their salaries, monthly expenses and all of the items they have already received,” Norton said. “Then they will address any lingering needs and bring the case to the committee.”

Norton said a common item many families are asking for are deep freezers to store food.

“The committee is made up of 21 nonprofit and government organizations who meet to discuss the requests,” Norton said. “The committee then decides whether or not to fulfill the request and which organization will contribute and how much.”

The committee also serves as a bit of a watchdog group to make sure aid recipients are spending money for what it was intended. 

This part of the recovery process comes after victims have worked with their insurance companies, FEMA, the Salvation Army and Red Cross.

As of now, Norton said there are less than 10 families who have requested additional items from the long-term recovery committee.

Infrastructure

With individual needs being met, Franklin County is still working with FEMA on infrastructure claims for damages caused by the flood.

The county also is seeking federal reimbursement for equipment, and manpower overtime of highway employees and sheriff’s deputies, who worked during the flood response. 

The county had to spend $366,386 in order to receive federal financial assistance for flood response.

That amount is strictly for money spent on flooding in unincorporated parts of the county.