Tornado damage falls short of federal assistance threshold

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2008

RICHMOND-After preliminary damage assessments, Virginia does not meet the threshold for federal disaster assistance, state officials say.

Teams of local, state and federal representatives found that damage from the tornadoes on April 28 does not meet the required total uninsured dollar amount.

This means that the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot declare a federal disaster in Virginia, and no federal assistance will be available to individual homeowners or businesses. Most of the damage is insured, and FEMA cannot duplicate any coverage provided by private insurance companies. The total amount of uninsured property must meet the minimum threshold before federal assistance is approved.

&uot;The good thing is that most of the homes and businesses have enough insurance to cover their losses,&uot; said Michael Cline, state coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Already in affected areas, community and volunteer groups are pitching in to help their neighbors to recover. The American Red Cross, Operation Blessing, the Southern Conservatives, the Baptist General Convention, the Salvation Army, the Convoy of Hope, the United Methodist Conference, Mercy Chefs, the United Way of South Hampton Roads, the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia are providing meals, helping to remove debris, assisting with child care and delivering food.

Many donations have been collected from surrounding churches, businesses and local restaurants and concerned Virginians. Information about organizations collecting donations for storm victims is available at VDEM’s Web site,

The city of Suffolk opened a Disaster Response Center May 1 in the Suffolk City Recreation Center located at Kings Fork Middle School, 350 Kings Fork Road. The center houses representatives from several state and local agencies and organizations offering assistance. Hours of operation for the center are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The center will remain open at least through Sunday.