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Tornado recovery | Virginia Beach emergency managers attempt to get federal assistance for homeowners

The director of Virginia Beach emergency management said one federal agency cannot assist but another could step in.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — More than two and a half weeks after a powerful tornado touched down in Virginia Beach, emergency managers told residents Thursday night that they are continuing to search for relief for hard-hit homeowners. 

During a portion of a town hall hosted by Councilman Chris Taylor, Director of Virginia Beach Emergency Management David Topczynski offered a presentation to update tornado response and recovery. 

It is notably easier to drive through affected neighborhoods like Broad Bay Point Greens. Topczynski said right-of-way debris removal ended Friday. Although, pick-up for bulky items is still available. 

In all, he said public works crews hauled away more than 22,000 cubic yards of yard debris and 200 tons of construction debris. Teams will still inspect draining systems and sidewalks over the next couple of weeks. 

It comes as some homeowners grapple with the decision of whether to sell their lots or rebuild.

"We didn't get enough insurance to build outright. We met with a builder today. We may be able to use a little bit of the structure," said neighbor Vaden Blackwood. 

His home was heavily damaged by the tornado.

If Blackwood and his wife decide to rebuild, it may take a lot of time and money. 

"The materials and the people who can do it are in short supply. So, we're thinking that it's probably a two-year endeavor," said Blackwood. 

Topczynski said city officials are still trying to help homeowners access financial relief. He explained why assistance through FEMA will not be available.

"We're not even close to the federal thresholds for them to declare an emergency or provide assistance. If we had hit them, they only cover completely uninsured homeowners and individuals. If you have any dime of insurance, it's automatically not covered by FEMA. They don't provide checks, they provide reimbursement months and years after the fact following really strict and astringent rules, so you still have to upfront those costs," Topczynski said. 

He did stress that the Small Business Administration or SBA could offer long-term, low-interest loans.

Local emergency managers, through state counterparts at Virginia Department of Emergency Management, requested approval for the SBA program Monday. They hope to hear back at the end of next week, although that timetable is not a guarantee. 

"It's designed to cover the gap between what was insured and what was not insured and other personal needs," said Topczynski. 

Say the SBA gives the OK, homeowners would need to individually apply. It is something Blackwood would consider.

He said he already applied for assistance through Virginia REALTORS. The association is accepting applications for disaster relief funds. 

Those interested in applying are asked to email their contact information to disasterrelief@virginiarealtors.org

Below is more information from a resource handout, provided Thursday evening.


  • Disaster: property damage due to severe weather on April 30, 2023.
  • Property located in Virginia Beach, as identified via Local Government Executive Order.
  • Recipient is a full-time resident and U.S. citizen or legally admitted for residence in the United States.

Type of assistance:

  • Insurance deductible: Insurance deductible for claims for damage to the residence related to the disaster, up to $1,000. Note that proof of an insurance claim filed with homeowners or renter's insurance must be provided.
  • Other: If the property is not insured or insurance will not cover the claim, assistance may be available.

Deadline for applications: July 1, 2023.

Required documentation:

  • Photo identification to show proof of residency (driver's license or other governmental documentation evidencing residency)
  • Copy of mortgage statement/mortgage payment coupon, copy of rent statement/lease agreement, or copy of insurance claim filed (as appropriate)
  • Proof of damage to primary residence (e.g., photos of damage; insurance estimate; copy of written claims, settlement proceed or claim status reports; and/or copy of all repair estimates from contractors

Other restrictions:

  • Limit: one award per property
  • Applications processed on a first-come, first-served basis for completed applications

Applications will be processed if received by the application deadline, or when funding runs out, whichever is first.

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