The tornadoes are long gone from Hale County, but not FEMA’s help

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:47 PM CST
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HALE COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - The scenes unfold on television. A tornado strikes a community and FEMA comes to town to help determine who gets assistance and who doesn’t. FEMA is in places like Akron and Greensboro right now to lend a hand but that was not the case one year ago in Sawyerville.

A tornado touched down in Sawyerville taking out Jimmy Green’s home and he was not alone as others suffered the fate as well.

“We’re gonna try do this step-by-step with the help of the Lord,” Jimmy Green said on February 14, 2022.

In spite of all the damage, it was not enough to meet FEMA’s threshold for its primary assistance and a disaster declaration was never made.

“I remember that, by the way. The threshold in Hale County this much, but in Pasadena, California, it may be up to here, so it’s based on different population levels and economic status for those individual counties,” said FEMA Media Specialist Darrell Habisch.

Still, that doesn’t mean help is not available.

FEMA leaders say it’s critically important to read what it calls the ‘determination’ letter or email after storm survivors apply for assistance.

“More often than not we’re pointing something out that isn’t correct,” said Habisch. “Maybe the address of your primary residence isn’t correct or maybe the insurance information isn’t correct, something needs to be fixed.”

And, in the end, if nothing can be done financially, FEMA says it can still offer assistance in other ways.

“There are multiple agencies we can point you to, a volunteer agency, a church, but more often than not we’re going to be able to put a roof over your head, get you some rental assistance you may need,” said Habisch.

As for Jimmy Green he rebuilt his home in Sawyerville and has moved on.

For additional disaster information, call FEMA at (800) 621-3362.

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