Hurricane Sally victims facing obstacles obtaining federal aid

Florida

A boat is washed up near a road after Hurricane Sally moved through the area, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Orange Beach, Ala. Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm, pushing a surge of ocean water onto the coast and dumping torrential rain that forecasters said would cause dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and well inland in the days ahead. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

TALLAHASEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Sally ravaged the Florida panhandle and while President Trump declared a major disaster, the order only reimburses local governments, not affected residents.

The process has been slow and residents feel it should be a warning to other Floridians who may be impacted by future storms.

Waterlogged furniture and personal belongings line the streets of Bristol Woods, Holly Rose’s neighborhood just outside of Pensacola

“We started doing sandbags, trying to stop the water from coming in, which was a pointless effort,” said Rose.

She and her neighbor Wayne Quarrier didn’t have flood insurance.

“This neighborhood unfortunately has never been declared a flood zone,” said Quarrier.

Any help recovering will likely have to come from the federal government.

“I mean my family won’t have a home if FEMA doesn’t step in,” said Rose.

Normally after a disaster FEMA arrives to assess the damage and if it’s bad enough, FEMA grants individual assistance to help victims like Holly and Wayne recover.

But State Senator Doug Broxson told us the pandemic has complicated things.

“Even FEMA [is] trying to do things remotely,” said Broxson.

The small FEMA team that did come out determined there wasn’t enough damage.

Now the local governments are having to collect their own evidence to prove the damage warrants extra aid.

“We’re kind of exhausted with the COVID dilemma. We’re exhausted with a surprise storm. And now we’ve been told that the burden is on the citizenry to prosecute their own ability to deal with the federal government,” said Broxson. “What we’ve got to do is get people to bombard the counties with information so that we can improve our application to FEMA.”

Governor Ron DeSantis said in a Thursday press release that the state is conducting damage assessments and is continuing to work with FEMA to get individuals the help they need.

But Holly and Wayne are skeptical help is on the horizon.

“Don’t rely on anyone to step up and help even when they’re supposed to,” said Rose.

Senator Broxson told us he’s doubtful much if any help will be coming from the state, which has seen more than $2 billion in lost revenues due to the pandemic.

Damage estimates from Hurricane Sally range from two to $10 billion for the Gulf Coast.

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