Gutwreching. That is how Don Bolger described his reaction to witnessing the destruction left in the wake of the May 10 tornado in Newton County.
That is how Don Bolger described his reaction to witnessing the destruction left in the wake of the May 10 tornado in Newton County.
“To walk up and see a home, and there is nothing there, it’s gutwrenching,” Bolger said.
Bolger is an external affairs field specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and he said FEMA’s role now that the tornado has been declared a federal disaster is to encourage those affected to register.
The ways to register for FEMA assistance are by logging on to www.fema.gov, and on the main page there is a link at the top that reads, “apply for assistance.”
“Click that link, and it is a very simple process,” Bolger said. “Fill everything out right there, and you can track your application online. Once you are in the system, you can go back a day or two later and it can tell you everything that is there.”
A person can also register by telephone by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). FEMA will give callers a PIN number, which they can use to track their application online.
“There is assistance to get your home back to where it is livable,” said Bolger of what FEMA can provide. “It is not money that is there to return to your home to the original condition before the tornado hit. It is money to make the home sanitary and livable. It is all based on insurance. You need to talk with your insurance company, find out your coverage, and go ahead and register with FEMA at the same time. You will then be able to determine what assistance you will be available for from FEMA based on your insurance.
“If your insurance is covering everything, and picking up the cost of all the damage, there is no need for FEMA. And we are finding that in some cases, and that is a good thing. But, if your home was totally destroyed, you may still need other assistance, or if you have been displaced from your home and living in an apartment or hotel, there is FEMA money available.”
Bolger said FEMA could also help with medical cost or unemployment issues related to the May 10 storm.
“Every household is different,” he said. “Every homeowner’s troubles are different. The best thing to do is to get online and register with FEMA and see what you are eligible for.”
Bolger is one of several FEMA agents in Newton County assisting the victims of the storm.
The group is working out of the joint field office in Jefferson City, which has been operating since the ice storm this winter and the floods this spring.
“Missouri has had its fair share of weather-related disasters,” Bolger said. “Mother Nature’s fury is unbelievable.”
Neosho Daily News