Jefferson County reaches threshold for federal assistance after deadly flash flooding

Officials are still waiting on the state and FEMA to declare a disaster and award the funds
Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Millions of dollars worth of damage is now being reported after deadly flash flooding earlier this month.

“It was very impactful event,” Jefferson County Emergency Management Officer Melissa Sizemore said.

More than 550 people submitted damage reports for their homes or businesses to the Jefferson County EMA.

“We saw a lot of residential damages within their homes,” Sizemore said. “So people’s basements and crawl spaces flooded, their first floors. Some homes had five to six feet of water inside of them.”

Sizemore said Pelham, Hoover, and parts of Birmingham were damaged the most, especially roadways.

“We had several roads that were washed out,” she said. “Millions of dollars in infrastructure damage.”

After disasters, there are three types of government assistance the state and county can qualify for. Public, state, and individual. To qualify for federal dollars, there has to be more than $2.7 million in public damage. Sizemore said Jefferson County has reached that.

To qualify for state assistance, there has to be more than $8.2 million in overall state damage. There is no financial threshold for individual damage. Sizemore said the state has also reached the $8.2 million threshold after this flooding event.

“We are very hopeful that because we have exceeded our county threshold and our state threshold that we will hopefully see some form of financial assistance in our county,” she said. “We can also bring financial assistance to the individuals impacted as well.”

Sizemore said federal assistance isn’t a guarantee. They are still waiting on the state and FEMA to declare a disaster and award the funds. The county can also be awarded public assistance, but not individual. Sizemore said even if individual assistance isn’t given, there are still opportunities to get loans from the small businesses administration. She said they do not know when the funds will be awarded or not.

“We could hear back in 24 hours,” she said. “We could hear back in three days. We could hear back in two weeks. It just dependent on the timeline that FEMA gives us.”

There is no guarantee the state will get all three types of assistance, but Sizemore said if individual assistance is awarded to the county and you reported your home’s damage, the EMA will contact you. There will also be an option to call in and apply.

Sizemore said the county is expecting FEMA to come next week to evaluate damage to the roadways. Once that’s done, a disaster application goes to the Governor and then back to FEMA for the final decision on how much money to give out, if any.


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