FEMA in Amherst County surveying damage

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AMHERST Co., Va. (WDBJ7) FEMA was in the Elon area Monday assessing damage from last week's tornado.

They expect to be around for the next few days. This is the beginning phase of their work, trying to figure out if the damage here is bad enough for federal help.

A week later, cleanup continues in Elon, while the work for FEMA is just beginning. Monday, they were out looking at homes damaged from the EF-3 tornado.

Amherst County's Public Safety Director Gary Roakes was showing them around.

Gary Roakes, Amherst County Public Safety Director, said, “They want to come down and look to see exactly what the damages are. Does it meet the qualifiers? Does it not?”

A FEMA representative says this is a preliminary assessment. They're looking at homes, while taking notes on damaged roofs and foundations.

Will Powell, FEMA Public Affairs Specialist, said, “We're basically gathering data on what happened from the storm and what happened in the two cities and then we provide that information to the state if they want to make the determination to request federal assistance.”

Will Powell with FEMA says there are four FEMA crews here surveying.
He says there are a number of factors they consider in deciding whether they provide help. Those factors include damage to property, how much insurance covers, as well as help that's available locally.

Roakes says damage to timber and homes tops $10 million dollars in Amherst County. But that total grows when you add in cost to infrastructure like power lines and cable.

“Obviously we're looking at $12-15 million or more just superficially for Amherst county,” said Roakes.