The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday, July 13, made official what had been suspected but dreaded for weeks, announcing that no federal assistance will be forthcoming for individuals impacted by June flooding in the state.
In a news release, MEMA stated that after “thorough, on-the-ground assessments of impacted areas due to flooding in North Mississippi from June 8-11, state and local officials have concluded the damage to homes did not meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) parameters to request federal assistance.”
Before a state can even request federal aid, MEMA said a significant number of homes must be classified as having “major” damage or being “destroyed.” Most of the June homes were found to be “affected” or having “minor” damage, based on FEMA guidelines, the MEMA news release explained.
For flood damage to be considered major, FEMA requires water inside of a conventionally built home to reach a level of 18 inches or to be above electrical outlets in an essential living space, or at least 3 inches but less than 18 if the floodwaters persist or other requirements are met.
A home is considered destroyed only if the waterline is at the roofline or higher, or if there is a complete failure of two or more major structural components, such as walls, foundation or roof.
In the absence of those conditions, property insurance or flood insurance are the primary forms of relief.
But they are not the only assistance available.
“Residents will not be alone in this recovery process,” said MEMA Executive Director Stephen McCraney. “While the state may not be eligible to receive federal individual assistance, we are working with counties to provide other financial avenues.”
For instance, through the Disaster Trust Fund, counties can apply for funding in MEMA’s Disaster Assistance Repair Program. The state can provide funding, up to $250,000, for building materials only.
“With the help of nonprofits and our volunteer community, these counties can recover,” McCraney said. “Within the last four years, DARP and our volunteer community restored 850 homes in 22 counties when federal financial assistance wasn’t available.”
Up to 20 inches of rain fell in Tallahatchie County over those June days, impacting 46 homes and 41 public roads, according to assessments conducted and information collected by the Tallahatchie County Emergency Management Agency.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service reported that Tallahatchie County suffered about $100 million in agricultural damages from the floodwaters.