COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Back in March, the Tennessee Valley was hit with several severe storms and tornadoes causing many counties to apply for federal assistance. Now Colbert County says their application has been partially approved.
Officials with the Colbert County Emergency Management Agency said that the county incurred around $5.5 million in total damages during the deadly storms that tore through the area in March. Yet, after filing a disaster declaration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency some federal funds could be on the way to help offset those costs.
EMA Director Micheal Smith said while part of the request pertaining to public buildings was approved the part pertaining to individual property was not.
“We received a notification last week that they did approve the public assistance declaration, but the individual assistance declaration, we were notified yesterday that that was denied,” Smith said.
Public assistance funding is used to help repair public resources, like schools, roads, and government buildings. It also helps pay for things like debris removal and repairing power lines. However, those funds cannot be used to repair privately-owned structures.
“In our case, about 90 percent of our damages were insured,” Smith said, “and so I feel like that probably was one of the main reasons why our request for individual assistance was denied.”
Smith said county officials will be working with FEMA to make reimbursement requests. It’s still unclear exactly how much of that funding will be awarded to the county. He says that this approval may also later award them hazard mitigation funds, which can be used to make the community safer.
“That’s normally where we receive funds for community storm shelters or outdoor warning sirens or other mitigation measures such as that,” Smith said.