Road to Recovery: Apison family begins FEMA process
APISON, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)-- FEMA centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties opened Friday, and already have seen more than 150 tornado victims.
The entire process can take less than an hour for those who register ahead of time.
It all begins with a phone call, 1-800-621-FEMA in Apison or any other of the 6 centers now open in the Tennessee Valley.
"We actually came with some neighbors," says visitor Wayne Sorrels. "They had significant damage."
Wayne sorrels and his family, consider themselves incredibly lucky to have just missed the EF-4 tornado that caused widespread and brutal damage to their Apison community.
"The tornado actually went over and behind our house," Sorrels says.
The horse farm on Candies Creek road suffered some tree and fence damage. Inside their home a power surge zapped several kitchen appliances.
"A loose roof on the barn but nothing serious," he says. "We were just extremely fortunate, our neighbors lost horses."
Which is why Sorrels says he hesitated to even visit the FEMA center Saturday, but the effects they now expect to feel to their horse training business ended up being the clincher.
"Horses are a luxury now a days," Sorrels says. "People aren't going to spend money training horses when they've got so many other problems."
Registration at the phone station is the first and longest stop for Sorrels. Then it's over to mitigation, and finally U.S. Small Business Administration.
"Very easy," he says, once it's over. "Everything went smooth. If you have questions they'll answer them."
Sorrels was grateful, even a little surprised to learn his business and appliances might be eligiable for federal aid.
"They're talking about giving us a small business loan," he says. "For the business to keep going through the slow time."
That's why FEMA representatives says it's important for victims to at least call and check. The process is just as easy to go through online or over the phone. The centers are set up for those who'd rather talk to a FEMA representative in person.
"You've gotta go through a process," Sorrels says. "I guess we'll know something in a week."
It's important for tornado victims to come or call prepared with insurance, social security information and especially a list of major property losses. FEMA representatives say that can help speed up the process.