FEMA: With a $1 billion damage estimate, federal funds won’t fix everything

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 4:23pm

Federal aid should give Nashville’s flooding victims a boost, but officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency caution that its range is limited.

Mayor Karl Dean said Wednesday the cost of damages from the weekend of record flooding will likely exceed $1 billion.

President Obama has authorized disaster declarations for four Middle Tennessee counties, including Davidson, clearing the way for federal aid to flow into Nashville.

“It’s safe to say the damage we are looking at will easily exceed a billion dollars,” Dean said Wednesday.

The hardest-hit neighborhoods include parts of Bordeaux, Bellevue and Antioch. The downtown commercial district, among several other areas of town, has also sustained significant damage.

Davidson County residents can call 1-800-621-FEMA to apply for assistance. Five Metro Parks and Recreation community centers –– Coleman, Bellevue, Hadley, Hermitage and East Park –– have turned into spots where victims can learn more about disaster relief.

Derek Jensen, external affairs specialist of FEMA, who’s currently working in Nashville, said the agency analyzes each case on an individual basis, taking into account insurance coverage and house damage.

“Most commonly, the type of assistance we normally provide is in the form of temporary housing,” Jensen said. “So, if you’re displaced from your residence, and you need a place to live, we can provide rental assistance.”

While Jensen said FEMA dollars could go toward paying for “some personal property,” it won’t pay for everything.

“I think it’s important to note federal assistance isn’t going to make people whole,” he said. “It’s not designed to put things back the way they were before the disaster. It will get people started on their road to recovery, and that’s an important boost that they need.”

Jensen’s advice to flood victims is to start the FEMA application process early.

3 Comments on this post:

By: Kosh III on 5/5/10 at 2:47

I applied today with FEMA for housing assistance. I was told it may take up to a month to get approval.
A month!!!! heck of a job brownie.

It was obvious by Sunday that we should be a disaster area. But the gov did not ask for federal assistance till Monday evening. It took until Wed to get FEMA to start.

I called Lamar's office and was told that Lamar had faxed a letter to the White House in support of the request for assistance and that he would do no more. Protocol had to be followed, procedures had to be done in proper order.

Too bad they didn't tell the Cumberland about procedures. Lamar was worse than useless. I'll bet when it was health care he burned up the phone lines fighting against it but when a crisis struck, he followed "protocol."

By: Burt99 on 5/6/10 at 8:48

In any emergency situation, damage has to be assessed before applications for Federal Disaster Aid can be made, and unfortunately, no reasonable assessment could be made until Monday when flood waters began to recede.

The FEMA response was fairly quick, and yes it takes time to get approval because of the overwhelming number of applicants. Lamar Alexander's office's response was appropriate ... any additional action outside of protocol would have served only to slow things down.

By: JUDYBOODO on 5/6/10 at 9:48

Well Kosh lll I guess it's your boy in office now, so if things aren't done the way you think they should, you'll just have to hope for a different kind of change! Better luck on keeping all the illegals