Assumption tornado victims asking why FEMA isn't helping them

Assumption tornado victims asking why FEMA isn't helping them
(Source: April Davis)
(Source: April Davis)

ASSUMPTION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Just days after the historic flooding in Louisiana, FEMA stepped in to help thousands of people. However, tornado victims in Assumption Parish are asking why they still have not had help from FEMA a month after the EF3 tornado on February 23.

"When are we going to get assistance," asked April Davis, who lives in Dorseyville.

Davis had lived at her home for 25 years. She is now living with her niece because she can not stay at her own house. She and many of her neighbors did not have any insurance when the tornado ripped through their homes leaving a trail of destruction.

There was still tin roof stuck in a tree and tarp in another tree as well as a shoe and a random picture in the debris that remains on the ground. Davis now has a tarp over her roof.

Homes down the street from her have been cleared out and turned into nothing but piles of debris along the side of the street.

"The house was too old to be insured. It was a family house and we tried to get it insured, but it was too old to be insured," said Dwayne Adams. "It's been a month since this happened, we haven't received any help or assistance."

Her neighbor's home was picked up and tossed upside down on top of a car. Another trailer was flipped upside down. All that's left of it now are the stairs leading up to it and pilings.

"What is it going to take for us to get assistance? Where do we stand right now? Is FEMA going to come in and help us? This was February 23. Today is March 23. No assistance," said Davis.

The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a federal disaster declaration for the affected parishes. However, GOHSEP's Deputy Director Mark Riley said despite the level of damage, nationally, the number of structures damaged or destroyed is considered marginal.

So instead of asking for a disaster declaration just for Assumption Parish, they grouped together Iberville, Livingston, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes. That brings the total number of homes and businesses up to 179 that were damaged or destroyed, hopefully increasing the chances for a federal declaration.

Not to mention the recent floods on top of that, which were part of a different claim.

"We have 22,000 people that have registered for federal assistance in that event. 22,000 versus the couple of hundred people that may have registered in the tornado event," said Riley.

Which is why he said that federal disaster came immediately.

As for Davis, she was temporarily relocated and comes home daily surprised at Mother Nature's fury yet amazed a statue of Mary is still with her.

"I rode out many storms with her. This is our first tornado," said Davis.

According to FEMA, the governor's request for a major disaster declaration as a result of the tornadoes, storms and straight line winds was denied.

Officials from the governor's office says Edwards plans to file an appeal.

"We are in discussions with FEMA on the appeal now, but it has not been submitted yet."

The state has 30 days to appeal the decision.

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