FEMA aid will not be on the way to Baxter Springs

The remains of a home damaged by a tornado Sunday evening stands in Baxter Springs, Kan., Monday, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kansas – FEMA aid will not be on the way to Baxter Springs after a tornado ripped through the heart of the town.

“FEMA uses a fairly complex system to figure where aid is rendered,” explains Sedgwick County Emergency Director Randy Duncan. “There is no simple way to explain it, but it’s a well thought out plan.”

Basically, Baxter Springs would have to have seen 25 homes damaged or destroyed with at least 40 percent damage. And that 40 percent damage would have to be on homes that are not insured.

“Or the damages would have to be to homes that are insured, but insurance did not cover the full amount, up to at least 40 percent of insurance not covering the loss,” explains Duncan.

Residents like Lori, who lost her home, had full-coverage insurance. But, Lori still wonders what comes next, with or without federal aid.

“Will I rebuild? Now, that’s a good question,” says Lori. “I don’t know if we’ll rebuild. It depends on the insurance whether we do or not. It’s a great location. I know a lot of my neighbors are thinking about moving.”

Duncan explains the numbers for damages will vary for federal aid, depending on the number of residents as well.

“County and state per capita cost is $1.744 million for Sedgwick County,” explains Duncan. “Now, that is one of the triggers to get FEMA aid. Roads, bridges, patrol vehicles, city halls, county courthouses, anything that’s owned by the public. This does not include any private property.”

That is for part one of the FEMA figures. Part two is for private homes and property.

“Twenty five homes with at least 40 percent of an uninsured loss,” says Duncan. “It comes back to insurance, and it’s a bit of a numbers game. There are other FEMA helps out there, but it takes much more damage.”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has asked for Small Business Administration disaster declaration for Cherokee County. That would allow for very low interest loans.

“But, you have to be credit-worthy to get those loans,” explains Duncan.

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