Federal help available, tornado victims missing out - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Federal help available, tornado victims missing out

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Many tornado victims aren't getting the federal money they're eligible for, because they're not signing up. That's word from FEMA as local disaster recovery centers have yet to see much foot traffic.

FEMA set up disaster recovery centers the past week in Chattanooga, Cleveland and Etowah  to help storm victims apply. They're just not getting the turnout expected. Sunday they set up at local Lowe's stores to educate people.

"It's one day at a time," storm victim Dawn Throckmorton said.

Throckmorton lives on Snowhill Road at Wolftever Creek in Harrison.

"We're still trying to recover just emotionally from it," Throckmorton said.

Her lifelong home was one of many destroyed there March 2.

"We had to climb in a through all the trees to get to the other side but once we got there, it was really devastating. Everything was just destroyed," Throckmorton said.

She's insured, but worries it won't cover everything lost. She didn't know she could still get FEMA help until she was approached Sunday.

"It's more on a personal level. I think it's a great thing what they're doing because people need to know there's other assistance out there," Throckmorton said.

"If you have any damage whatsoever from the severe storms, flooding or straight line winds," FEMA Representative Susan Solomon said.

That includes, renters, insured and un-insured. Of the 10 Tennessee counties declared disaster zones, FEMA representatives say only 450 people total have applied for help.

"We're not having a very good turnout at the disaster recovery centers," Solomon said.

Setting up these booths at area Lowe's is another way to get the word out. They're also educating everyone they can on being prepared for the next tornado.

"We want people to be prepared so they can reduce the chance of injuries and also to reduce damages to your dwelling," Solomon said.

"You just never know. It's just so unpredictable and nobody expects it," Throckmorton said.

Dawn Throckmorton says any help, is welcome.

"It really just takes everybody coming together to restore and rebuild and put our life back together," Throckmorton said.

She hopes her neighbors follow her lead.

"They may need this so I think they should just come and check it out and register and at least get some information on it," Throckmorton said.

You can register for FEMA help online or on the phone, but FEMA representatives say your best bet at getting all the help your eligible for, is to go to one of the disaster recovery centers.
     
Once you apply, FEMA visits your home within three days, and you'll know if and what you're approved for in 10 days.

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