FEMA workers walk through St. Louis neighborhoods, registering people for flood aid
Orange notices marking buildings as condemned are stuck to the front doors of rows of houses in University City, where devastating flash floods last month endangered lives and damaged property.
On Wednesday, staff members from the Federal Emergency Management Agency walked through the neighborhood and others hit hard by recent flooding. They knocked on doors and looked for people who qualify for federal assistance. FEMA personnel visited St. Louis and St. Louis and St. Charles counties.
FEMA is offering money to help flood survivors make repairs, replace damaged property and find new housing.
The federal agency has paid out more than $1.4 million to St. Louis flood survivors so far, a spokesperson said. The flooding July 25-27 created at least $35 million in uninsured property damage and emergency response costs, according to the office of Gov. Mike Parson.
The Biden administration on Monday approved Parson’s request to issue a major disaster declaration on Monday, thereby qualifying flood survivors for FEMA’s grants to individuals.
The chance to apply for help was welcomed by Alphonso Chappelle, who has rented a home in University City for about four years. He greeted FEMA workers on his front porch and registered for aid.
“My neighbor called and told me my car was floating down the street,” Chappelle said of his experience in the July floods. “So I came out on the porch, and sure enough all the cars that were parked over were floating down and kind of stockpiled. And then a dumpster floated in from around the corner.”
Laverne Williams-Lacy has lived several doors down for 40 years. At the height of the flooding, she was trapped in her home as her finished basement filled with water. Her family’s three cars floated away.
She would be willing to sell — if she can find a buyer.
“I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to be bought out. If we were, that would be fine. But we wouldn’t be able to sell, with people knowing this has happened more than twice,” she said.
Overflow crowds have lined up for hours at community meetings to receive information about disaster assistance. Charitable organizations have also distributed food and basic supplies.
FEMA can offer different types of aid depending on each applicant’s situation, said John Mills, an External Affairs officer.
“We're working with people one on one,” he said. “We want to hear from people directly about what their unmet needs are, when it comes to their living situation — and we'll work with them to try to get them some assistance.”
FEMA workers carried iPads on Wednesday as they invited flood survivors to register with the agency. But many of the residents hit hardest already have fled their homes for alternate housing.
Flood survivors can apply for FEMA assistance online at disasterassistance.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-3362. Immediate assistance from charitable organizations including the United Way is available by calling 2-1-1.
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