FEMA continues to assess Buchanan County for individual assistance after disaster declaration is approved

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 5:14 PM EDT
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BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - New aid is coming to Buchanan and Tazewell County as they work to rebuild from this past summer’s flooding.

Because President Biden approved a major disaster declaration last week, FEMA can move forward with providing public federal assistance. That relief aid is going toward the county’s governments while FEMA completes its individual relief aid assessment.

FEMA’s public assistance will cover any damage costs to infrastructure and government agencies. But FEMA’s external affairs officer explained how the agency hasn’t made a decision on individual assistance that would go directly to affected residents.

“Additional designations may be made at a later date, if requested by the Commonwealth, and then warranted by the results of further damage assessment,” Tamiko Exford said. “Right now, they’re in the process of doing further assessment.”

If FEMA grants individual assistance, it will help residents without flood insurance start to rebuild. But the average payout is $4,000.

The president and owner of Marks-Tiller Insurance Agency has years of experience with flood insurance. She explained how even if individual assistance is granted, it doesn’t cover all the disaster damage.

“It doesn’t go very far, it really doesn’t,” Carla Marks said. “There are other sources of donations and support, but right now the average amount coming in from FEMA, from the government, is that relatively small amount.”

Now that a major disaster has been declared, Marks explained getting flood insurance is critical.

“If you’ve already been assisted by a disaster relief effort, you are then required to carry flood insurance ongoing from that point, no matter what risk zone you’re in, if you wish to get coverage in the future under disaster relief,” Marks said.

Flood insurance is required for residents living in a high-risk zone.

“Buchanan County, having the location of the river down there, their flood zone is a little bit different and there’s a little bit of a higher risk,” Marks said. “With a higher risk, the corresponding flood insurance rates are a little higher.”

However, many residents didn’t have flood insurance when the waters hit.

The federal funding that was just approved will go to the Commonwealth to help with Buchanan and Tazewell County recovery efforts.

Residents can still apply for federal assistance while FEMA is finishing its preliminary assessments for individual federal relief aid.