State, Federal officials begin preliminary damage assessments

HENRYVILLE, IN (WAVE) - The damage from Friday's tornado is obvious but, in order for victims to get federal assistance a lot of paper work needs to be done.

Tuesday, local, state and federal officials began preliminary damage assessments. Different teams are spread out all over Kentuckiana, including hard hit Clark County.

The survey teams include, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and the U-S Small Business Association.

For the tornado victims, many of them said it's encouraging to know that people are paying attention and there is the possibility for federal help.

"I've been in public safety for 35 years and never seen damage this powerful," said Arvin Copeland of Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Those preliminary damage assessments will help Gov. Mitch Daniels make his case to the president for a damage declaration.

If approved, it would help clear the way for home and business owners to get help.

"Obviously, insurance is the first line of defense," said Copeland. "If we do get a declaration, the maximum they can get is $31,400 from FEMA. That is to rebuild their homes and lives and that is not a lot ladies and gentlemen."

"Maybe it will be more," said Darrell Basham. "That is not enough, can't build anything." Basham's business is a total loss.

"We're gonna be looking at effects on these people," said FEMA spokesperson Gene Romano. "Do they have to relocate for school? Do they have a place to stay? Yes, we are gonna look at insurance but insurance isn't the answer to everything."

The state of Indiana must prove that up to 400 homes have been damaged, they already know 300 have. They also must prove that over $8-million in uninsured losses occurred in communities to qualify for federal help.

Once the approval of an emergency declaration is made by President Obama those in need can begin to apply for aid.

State officials say they're confident that the declaration will go to the president.

FEMA says those with damage should keep record outside of their insurance coverage and watch out for scammers. FEMA will not call and ask for personal information.

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