EMA officials advise residents to document flood damage for potential FEMA assistance

COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Flood waters have receded enough for some Shoals residents to start getting back to their homes. What they are finding inside is heartbreaking.

On Roosevelt Avenue in Muscle Shoals, it’s pretty much the same story at each address. Homes will have to be emptied and gutted before any kind of recovery effort can begin.

By the wheelbarrow load, soggy flooring and drywall are having to be discarded. Piles of appliances and cabinets line Roosevelt where flood waters have subsided.

Terry McGregor has lived here for 17-years. He and his wife were some of the first residents to evacuate. “Your worst fears in the matter had come to be reality.”

Monday afternoon he got back into his home. McGregor says the flood water was 8-inches deep throughout, and most all of his furnishings were a total loss.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling when you see something like that and know the situation you’re in,” stated McGregor. “I knew that we didn’t have flood insurance already, and so I try to remain calm with it.”

Being outside of a 100-year flood plan, no one in the Roosevelt Avenue area has flood insurance. Right now, the expense of recovery will fall on their own shoulders.

“It does hurt your heart to look around and see people going through that,” said McGregor. “But it has encouraged me greatly to know that there are like my church family and others offering to help.”

There are still many homes either underwater of surrounded by it in Colbert County. Officials are hoping the last couple of days of dry weather will get those free soon.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency has been in the northwest part of the state Tuesday evaluating flood damage. It appears all three counties have been touched by the recent flooding.

State and local EMA officials say as residents return to their homes they need to document everything. It could make the difference in getting FEMA assistance or not.

State EMA was escorted around this by local emergency management and Tuscumbia city leaders. They were getting an initial assessment of what the flood damage looked like around the city. Spring Creek in Tuscumbia has caused some major flooding damage along its path.

The state planned to visit as many areas in Colbert County as they could Tuesday. We’re told it will be up to the residents to help officials request individual assistance from FEMA to pay for uninsured flood damage to homes and businesses. Homeowners are asked to take as many pictures as they can of the damage, both before and after clean-up begins.

“Little things like that can go a long way as far as we need to be able to tell the whole story. The reason for the flood, how detrimental it was to each individual’s house because they are different according to where you live,” stated Colbert County EMA Director Mike Melton.

In the coming days, city’s and the Colbert County Commission plans to have a form posted to their websites. Residents will be able to fill it out describing where they live and the damage to their residence. They ask residents to get those forms filled out as quickly as possible. Melton says this will be crucial when asking the government for help.

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