A Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman says Iowans who lost their homes in Sunday’s tornado are likely to qualify for some federal assistance, in addition to any insurance coverage they may have on their property.
FEMA spokesman Doug Welty says anyone who experience property damage of any kind in the tornado should call FEMA’s toll-free hotline or stop at a mobile recovery center to fill out a request for federal aid. "You’ll speak to a real person and they’ll listen to your individual story so, you know, this is your time to sort of explain what happened to you and don’t shortchange yourself," he says. "Realize these people are there to help."
A mobile recovery center opened in Parkersburg yesterday and by late afternoon 75 people had stopped by to sign up for assistance. Welty says the center is sort of serving as a community hub right now. "They’re serving meals. The Red Cross has some crisis counseling and they have brand new clothes that have been donated. They’ve got a cell phone recharging center," Welty says. "All sorts of things are here." FEMA’s toll-free hotline is 1-800-621-3362.
Welty says in some cases, federal financial assistance can be direct-deposited in a bank account within a week. In other cases, low interest loans may be available for rebuilding. Welty says there’s no reason for tornado victims to wait for an on-site inspection in this instance, as it’s no mystery where the tornado struck. "We want people to start the recovery process as soon as possible, so just take some pictures," he says. "Most of these property inspectors, you know, know what’s happened here…so you don’t have to sit on a pile of debris to start recovering. Go ahead and do what you need to do to get the debris removed."
A call for volunteers has been issued to help farmers in the area clear their fields of debris so they can quickly replant their crops by mid-June, or else the growing season will be too far advanced to put new seeds in the ground.