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FEMA Denies Disaster Relief Request For Howard County

Gov. Pence requested Howard County be classified as a federal disaster area after the Nov. 17 tornadoes, but FEMA denied that request yesterday.

The tornado ripped Larrick and Glenna's house off its foundation

Photo: Jashin Lin

The tornado ripped Larrick and Glenna's house off its foundation

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight is promising the city will do what it can to help its residents rebuild after last month’s tornadoes—despite being denied federal assistance this week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday denied Governor Mike Pence’s request to declare Howard County a major disaster area.

Nearly 1,000 homes were damaged in the storms, of which 200 were almost completely destroyed.  And state officials estimate it will cost $2.8 million to rebuild.

Mayor Goodnight says he’s disappointed in FEMA’s decision. Kokomo applied for federal assistance after a major flood in April, and Goodnight says not getting assistance after two natural disasters is hard on the city.

“This is the second natural disaster in an 8 month period, and the first one didn’t qualify, so when you start throwing in all these other factors, and it now has a larger impact because we’re still buying up some of the flood damaged homes and things.”

Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson says they‘re disappointed with FEMA’s decision and that Governor Pence has asked the IDHS to appeal the decision.

“Which means, as soon as we can get a letter to FEMA we are going to request some additional damage assessment that will include FEMA, IDHS and county emergency management agencies,” Erickson said.

The state is appealing the denial. Goodnight says if it is denied again, he will seek additional assistance from the state.

Claire McInerny

Claire McInerny is a reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

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