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Residents, Land Owners Still Waiting For FEMA Assistance

Five weeks after Bloomington was hit by a total of 17 tornadoes, housing reconstruction has barely begun.

Families who lost their homes have either been placed in temporary housing, are living with family members, or have completely left the area.

According to Sam Mason, owner of a decimated trailer park along State Road 45 on Bloomington’s west side, The Federal Emergency Management Agency has yet to provide support for him to rebuild his community.

“I’ve noticed that FEMA the last week declared help for the local government in a disaster to help them in their clean up and yet things move a little slower when ‘we the people’ need the help,” he said.

Mason said FEMA inspectors have only come to the property to do a survey of the damage. The property has not been declared a disaster area yet.

FEMA has declared a disaster for ‘public’ projects in Monroe and surrounding counties, for repairs such as city and county roads, but ‘individualized’ claims for property owners have not yet been approved.

Monroe County Emergency Management Director Jim Comerford says it can take up to two months for FEMA to approve individual disaster areas.

Currently, the state Department of Homeland Security is compiling a list of damages to private property, and forwarding that information to the federal government to determine if enough damage has occurred to warrant financial assistance.

“If and when the federal government found approve the individualized assistance,” Comerford said, “FEMA would come in and set up a field office in the county for a period of time, and that is when residents can take their information and their records, talk to them, and actually file an application with them if they are eligible.”

Until then, Mason will have to file his claims with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and hope there is enough damage for the area to receive individualized assistance.

“We’ll be rebuilding,” he said, “its just going to take some time and it depends on a lot of factors, such as FEMA and if or what they are going to do or small business administration, and that’s what we’re looking to right now.”

Mason has been out every day since the tornado hit, cutting up trees and removing housing debris from the property.

WFIU’s Claire Murphy contributed to this report.

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