Individual FEMA Assistance denied for two Mississippi counties

DURANT, Miss. (WJTV) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied a request for individual assistance for residents in Holmes and Montgomery Counties.

Some of those in the town of Durant are living in uninsured homes. Linda Parker’s father, Jerry Jones is one of those residents.”They need help, these people need help,” says Parker. She drove all the way from Indiana to Durant to be with her father following the April 30th tornadoes.

“All these windows and stuff busted out. The storm did all of this, and he’s 84 years old. He needs, he needs to be at home. He needs his home fixed. He didn’t have any insurance,” says Parker.

Wednesday, FEMA declared Mr. Jones wouldn’t get that assistance.

“He can’t afford it. He’s on a fixed income, and he can’t afford to fix his own house.” She and her husband have helped repair her father’s light pole and water pipes. “Me and my husband have been helping the best we can. I don’t have a lot of money myself. I did what I could,” says Parker.

While homeowners will not get individual federal assistance, local government, and non-profits in nine counties.

That assistance is for, “debris removal, major repairs to the electric grid, to roads, bridges and things like that. So we got it for nine counties and that’s what we requested was for a total of nine counties,” says MEMA Director, Lee Smithson.

With 98 homes in Holmes County destroyed and another 34 in Montgomery County.

In its denial letter for those two counties, FEMA wrote: “…it has been determined that the impact to the individuals and households from this event was not of the severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance…”

“They look at it county by county. The amount of insurance in place, the conditions of the homes before the damaged incurred due to the storm to see if it was deferred maintenance,” explains Smithson. “We do look at the poverty rate in those counties, and right now certainly Holmes County is one of the poorest counties. I think it ranks fourth in the nation in poverty level so that’s looked at too.”

For Linda and her father, the next step could be to uproot. “I might have to take him home with me,” says Parker.

In a news release, Governor Bryant offered these words of encouragement, “I want to assure the people of Holmes and Montgomery counties that we will do everything possible at the state level to help,” says Bryant. “We will partner with nonprofit, community and faith-based organizations to make recovery as swift and painless as possible.”


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