Pike County Tornado Damage Won't Qualify for FEMA Aid


By Brittany Bivins

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will not provide financial aid for the recovery efforts from Christmas Day storms that struck Pike County.

At least 65 homes were damaged or destroyed by Christmas Day storms in Pike County, but that's not enough to get federal aid. Now some tornado victims say they think that's unfair, and they want FEMA to step in.

More than a week after two tornadoes tore through Pike County, there's plenty of damage left to see, but the dollar amount isn't enough to trigger federal action.

"We have to meet a certain threshold for the state in order to be declared a federal disaster through FEMA. And at this point, it's looking like that's not going to happen," Jeanna Barnes, EMA Director for Pike County.

The Pike County EMA and Red Cross are leading local recovery efforts, but storm victims say they want more from Washington.

"I think it's messed up because they're thinking that because it's small. But to us, it's not small to us. So I think that FEMA should help us because a lot of people don't have no homes or nothing like that," said Quavia Cummings, who lived at Brantley Mobile Home Park and lost his home during the storm.

"You know, we often see it happen to other people, but it's a lot different when it happens to you. Hopefully, somehow, somewhere or another, we'll all get the help that we need," said Curtis James, who also lost his home.

To do that, the Pike County EMA is teaming up with the Volunteers Organization Active and Disaster (VOAD), including agencies like the Red Cross, Christian Mission and Salvation Army to help meet emergency needs.

"There's going to be light at the end of the tunnel for these people, but the hard part I would think would be is the emotional factor of it. You've got families that lost everything they had and they lost it on Christmas Day, so they'll deal with that for years to come," said Barnes.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says the state has applied for help through the Small Business Administration. It would provide up to $200,000 in low-interest loans to people who lost their homes in the storms.To find out more about the SBA disaster loans, click here.

If you want to help storm victims, you can drop off clothing, furniture or other donations at the Salvation Army or the Christian Mission in Troy. You can also connect to relief efforts on Twitter using the hashtags #pctornadohaves or #pctornadoneeds. You can contact the Pike County EMA on Twitter @pcema.

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