Some tornado survivors denied by FEMA

FEMA information
May 24, 2011 8:22:00 PM PDT
In Cumberland County, many homes are waiting for demolition while tornado victims say they've been left to fend for themselves.

It's been five weeks since tornadoes cut a path of destruction through Fayetteville, damaging 658 homes and destroying more than 280.

Cleanup and rebuilding is well underway as FEMA officials held their last town hall meeting Tuesday night. About 40 people attended with specific questions about qualifying for disaster assistance. Others were frustrated with the slow or low insurance settlements.

"What I was hoping here tonight was that FEMA could push the insurance company to be fair with me," resident Omie White said.

FEMA officials say to date more than $700,000 in disaster assistance has been handed out to 1,500 applicants in Cumberland County. However, not everyone who asked for it got it.

Yadkin Road appliance store owner William Milbourne says he didn't have insurance and when he applied for FEMA aid, he was turned down.

"They just told us that we don't qualify for any of their programs right now," Milbourne said. "Try back in six months or so."

He says hearing that made him feel bad.

FEMA officials wouldn't comment on specific cases but say in general, every case that's denied should be appealed.

"Have someone walk you through the process, but take it every step of the way," said Clint Williams, FEMA spokesperson. "Eveyrbody is not going to get everything, but we are here to do our best to help."

Milbourne says he's put his home for sale to try and raise money to reopen his store and remains optimistic.

For George Bean, it's all gone now -- his home and many of his neighbors.

"Material things mean nothing to me now, anymore, it's living life to the fullest," Bean said. "It's going to be a different neighborhood. A lot not coming back. Rejuvenation take a long time."

And like many of his neighbors, Bean says he won't be moving back to his old neighborhood.

FEMA closes its field offices in Cumberland County Thursday at 5 p.m. After that, anyone with questions or issues has visit the online center for help.

Visit FEMA online
http://www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm

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