Les Vaughn of Harrison Twp. has not registered with FEMA. Despite not knowing for sure, Vaughn said he believes insurance will cover all the costs of repairing his damaged house and rebuilding three garages he lost during Memorial Day tornadoes.
“If I don’t need it … I don’t ask for it,” Vaughn said.
He also declined help when volunteers came around to clean up his Harrison Twp. neighborhood.
“If I needed their help, I would have asked them,” Vaughn said. “But there were more people who needed help.”
As of Monday, 4,027 individuals or households had registered with FEMA in the 11-counties declared federal disaster areas. Of those, 3,145 came from Montgomery County. Greene County registrations numbered 383, while 94 were reported in Miami County, according to FEMA.
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After accounting for the local damage and comparing it to past disasters, FEMA projections suggest up to another 1,400 individuals and households locally may be expected to register but have yet to sign up for FEMA grants or low-interest Small Business Administration loans, Mary Kucenski, a FEMA voluntary agency liaison, said this week.
A few may be afraid of the government, Kucenski told area nonprofit groups working to organize long-term tornado recovery efforts.
“They don’t want to come to FEMA,” she said. “They are still in their homes with no electric and water since the day of the storms hanging out waiting for something to get better. So that’s why we need to advocate for people and make them aware of what’s possible.”
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Area officials are also encouraging survivors, including those who believe they are insured, to register by the Aug. 19 deadline.
“I think the critical thing over the next few weeks is we’ve got to make sure everyone that has had any kind of damage is registered with them. Even if they are insured,” said Montgomery County Commission President Debbie Lieberman. “A lot of people are underinsured and don’t even know it yet.”
A complex set of damage thresholds, or “impact criteria,” determines eligibility for individual federal assistance and low-interest loans. A key element is how much storm damage is covered by insurance and how much is uninsured, according to FEMA.
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Eugene and Pearl Gudger have not registered with FEMA despite getting an insurance settlement they already know won’t likely cover the damage to their Harrison Twp. house.
Both 86 and with myriad health problems, the Harrison Twp. couple said they had a hard time just navigating life before the tornadoes ripped holes in their roof.
“We have not had it good,” Pearl said.
Going online to sign up is not an option for them, she said.
“I don’t know nothing about computers,” she said. “I wouldn’t even know how to turn one on.”
Having friends or family members drive older survivors to an area disaster recovery center is one option to get expanded services that can include crisis counseling, said Leo Skinner, a FEMA spokesperson.
Cronmiller said some in the community were victims of the storms but don’t want to raise the interest of immigration authorities.
“They are terrified, even if they have the proper legal documents,” she said. “They have these inherent fears that something is going to come up and show that they should be deported somehow. So they don’t want to be anywhere on the radar of the federal government.”
Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge said many who haven’t registered are still coming to terms with a disaster that took away important parts of their lives.
“I think a lot of people are still grieving. They just have a hard time putting one foot in front of the other,” Dodge said. “This is a big deal. They have to find their paperwork, and they are probably not even living in the house … They’re just overwhelmed.”
Register with FEMA
Mobile device: FEMA App
Phone: 800-621-3362 (including 711 or Video Relay). TTY users can call 800-462-7585. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Multilingual operators are available.
Deadline to register: Aug. 19
Pop-up disaster registration centers
Dayton VA Medical Center
4100 W. Third St., Building 305, Dayton
Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. -4 p.m.
2900 Philadelphia Drive, Harrison Twp.
Wednesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Ongoing Disaster Recovery Centers
The following centers began the week with new hours, open 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays.
4440 N. Union Rd., Trotwood
Dayton Children’s Hospital
Child Health Pavilion
1010 Valley St., Dayton
Shaw Elementary School
3560 Kemp Rd., Beavercreek
Representatives from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and other Ohio agencies are at the centers to answer questions.
More information on the Ohio Memorial Day tornadoes is at fema.gov/disaster/4447.
Read the latest stories, watch videos, find out how to get help at DaytonDailyNews.com/tornado