GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) - What is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) doing to help hundreds of tornado victims in Gloucester County? Nothing.
The damage in Gloucester County tops $8 million, and the volunteer efforts are amazing. You can see words of appreciation painted on the damaged homes.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency.
Catherine Lopez had heavy damage at her home, but she wants to know where FEMA is and where the federal funds are to rebuild.
"We haven't seen FEMA anywhere. We see volunteers, and the churches are helping. We even see people from the other side of the bridge in York County, but we don't see FEMA at all," said Lopez.
There is no FEMA presence because believe it or not the damage in Gloucester County does not rise to the level of damage needed to get the big federal assistance.
"The governor came through and said he wanted lights up the next day. Again, there's no FEMA nor any government assistance at all," Lopez added.
FEMA bases its level of support on how much damage is not covered by insurance. For example, Page Middle School got severe damage. It may not reopen even next year, but this damage is covered by insurance, so FEMA does not consider this when determining whether to give aid to Gloucester County.
We have also noticed a great disparity in the reporting of destroyed and heavily damaged homes.
In Richmond, the Department of Emergency Management reports 31 destroyed homes in Gloucester County, and 25 homes with heavy damage.
However, Gloucester County Emergency Management Coordinator Emily Ashley reports 200 homes affected by the tornado.
Ashley reports only 10 destroyed homes and 45 with major damage. Ashley also reports only $8 million dollars in damage to homeowners. Ashley did not have numbers for other types of damage, and did not have the damage totals to Page Middle School.
When asked whether the numbers are low. Ashley said, "The numbers are changing, but these are the numbers we have."
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