FEMA opens disaster recovery in Cross Lanes

CROSS LANES — Residents impacted by the April 2-6 storms and tornados were in Kanawha County Tuesday to begin applying for federal individual disaster assistance. 

 The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opened a state-federal Disaster Recovery Center at the Tyler Mountain Fire Department in Cross Lanes Tuesday morning. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is also on hand to help business owners apply for assistance. 

 Residents of Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln, Marshall, Nicholas, Ohio, Putnam, Wayne and Wetzel counties are eligible to apply. President Joe Biden approved a federal disaster declaration for West Virginia last week. 

 Keith Southall, of Sissonville, was at the FEMA center to get one-on-one help with his application. 

 “At least talking to somebody in person, they can answer the questions whereas if you’re trying to do it online you really don’t know how to respond to some of the questions,” he said. 

 Southall told MetroNews the April 2 storm was packed with powerful winds that resulted in a lot of property damage, but thankfully his home was left untouched. 

 “A lot of trees down, a lot of limbs down. We got several large trees down along with two utility buildings blown off their foundation and a piece of tin came from somewhere and pierced the side of the tires on my utility trailers and actually clipped part of the license plate off,” Southall said. 

 The National Weather Service confirmed ten tornados across the state on April 2, including in Kanawha, Fayette, Putnam and Cabell counties, some with wind speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. 

 Southall said he remembers that day all too well. 

 “I had taken my neighbor to the hospital for some procedures and my wife was home by herself. We had lost electricity for a while. She said it sounded like a train coming through,” he said. “Fortunately, our house was not damaged, but everything around the house was damaged.” 

 FEMA Media Relations Specialist Trey Paul said impacted residents can seek different forms of disaster assistance. 

 “They can apply for rental assistance, basic home repairs, personal property losses, other eligible expenses related to the damage from their particular disaster,” Paul said. 

 Paul added that recent federal changes have simplified the current application process. 

 “FEMA has made some really helpful changes to our Survivor Assistance Program that went into effect for disaster declared after March 22. A lot of those changes really simplify the application process by providing assistance more quickly and that includes flexible funding, and it expands eligibility,” he said. 

 Paul said residents are encouraged to bring important documentation, including before and after photos, when they meet with FEMA officials. 

 Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the storms can also apply for assistance online at disasterassistance.gov or by calling FEMA at 800-621-3362. 

 As of Tuesday morning, more than 260 residents submitted applications and $208,330 in funds had been approved for individual assistance, according to FEMA. 

 FEMA on Tuesday also announced public assistance will be available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in connection with the April 11-12 severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides in Boone, Brooke, Doddridge, Gilmer, Hancock, Lincoln, Marshall, Ohio, Tyler and Wetzel counties.