Not all storm damage qualifies for disaster relief from FEMA

Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 11:09 PM CDT
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CANTON, Miss. (WLBT) - Seven months after a major storm battered through Madison County, some people still need help.

Andrea Pittman took WLBT to the entrance of her former home, a camper in a rural part of Canton. A tree crushed it on a stormy night back in March which started with hail.

“I kept hearing pitter-patter and I thought it was acorns at first and I told [my fiancé ] ‘Yeah, honey that’s the test of your new roof.’ That’s not acorns, that’s hailstones," said Pittman.

She and her fiancé were going to sleep when their cat started to make noise. The tree slammed into the bedroom and killed their cat. The couple had moved into the bathroom just in time.

“We were left completely homeless because we couldn’t live in that. You can’t even walk inside of it. It’s not safe and it’s been that way ever since because we don’t -- we can’t afford to take any time off of work to be able to get it dismantled to get out of here," said Pittman.

Pittman reached out to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for financial help. MEMA Deputy Director Steve McCraney said damage from that night does not qualify for assistance.

“We had about twenty eight homes in, I believe, Madison County and some others in Rankin County. The problem was a lot of those homes were insured so we didn’t meet that threshold that FEMA requires for us to be able to declare disaster," said McCraney.

He also said that damage on insured homes does not go into the total number of damage costs MEMA must assess to present to FEMA. Pittman, however, doesn’t have insurance.

Her fiancé used his retirement money to purchase a new camper. They hope to tear down the old camper once they gather the money.

“I can’t understand why they would, you know, deny anybody any assistance on anything like that. Let alone, you know, deny veterans' assistance,” said Pittman.

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