Cities appeal FEMA aid denial

13News Now Audrey Esther has the story

SUFFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Although many can now apply for federal funding to help pay for storm damages, many more cannot including those who live in the cities of Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk and the counties of York and Isle of Wright.

“My garage was flooded and as you can see we still have stuff out that we're having to clean,” says Suffolk

During the height of the storm most of the Pughsville neighborhood, which includes both Chesapeake and Suffolk, was heavily flooded. Although all residents who live in Chesapeake can now apply for federal financial assistance their neighbors who in same cases live next door cannot.  

“I'm not going to tell you exactly what I said but I thought wow why not Suffolk. We got damage too,” says Suffolk resident Yvonne Deloetch who lives right next to the city line.

“You could say fortunately or unfortunately we didn't have enough damage to clearly meet what their (FEMA’s) threshold was,” says Suffolk’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Brian Spicer.

On the federal aid request Governor Terry McAuliffe submitted to President Barack Obama on October 20th, Virginia Beach received the most total damage with 1,315 reports followed by Chesapeake with 639, Newport News with 107, then Norfolk with 91. Portsmouth had 46 reports and Suffolk had 15.  

“We got short changed,” Deloeth says. “Suffolk should have got assistance too.”

“There's always hope,” Spicer says.

Hope he says that FEMA officials could change their mind and approve Suffolk's appeal of its decision. 

“I think the process is somewhat subjective in how they make that determination,” he says. “It's a bit of a moving target.”

In order to hit that target this time city officials must submit more information about the storm's overall economic and long-term impacts as well as any reports of storm damage that weren't included in the prior request.

“Every little bit will help in hopefully taking us up to that threshold to get that declaration,” Spicer says. 

In the meantime, Spicer say Suffolk officials are considering other ways to help residents but don't have any specifics just yet.

“When your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover it and you don't get help from FEMA you just do the best you can and keep moving.

Portsmouth city officials say they too are appealing FEMA’s decision to not include the city in the federal declaration.

“Portsmouth will begin the formal appeal process next week with hopes of submittal on Nov. 11,” Portsmouth city spokesperson, Dana Woodson said via email. Portsmouth residents are asked to report storm damage by calling (757) 393-8533 or online at http://www.portsmouthva.gov/FormCenter/Permits-Inspections-15/Damage-Assessment-Form-60

Suffolk residents can report storm damage by calling the city’s Planning & Community Development Department at (757)514-4150.


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