FEMA surveys town
NORTHWOOD, N.D. - Mike Melfald hugged a Federal Emergency Management Agency representative Wednesday. Like many Northwood residents, Melfald was grateful to see FEMA teams evaluating the devastated town for possible federal assistance. Five teams...
NORTHWOOD, N.D. - Mike Melfald hugged a Federal Emergency Management Agency representative Wednesday.
Like many Northwood residents, Melfald was grateful to see FEMA teams evaluating the devastated town for possible federal assistance.
Five teams from FEMA spent Wednesday assessing damage from Sunday night's tornado that left one dead, 18 injured and a town devastated.
The teams hope to pass on what they found to Gov. John Hoeven as early as today, said FEMA public affairs officer Derek Jensen.
From there, the governor can write a letter to the president requesting a presidential disaster declaration, said Hoeven spokesman Don Larson.
There are two types of declarations: public assistance and individual assistance. To qualify for public assistance, there must be at least $1 million in uninsured damage to publicly owned infrastructure, Larson said.
To receive individual assistance, generally 100 homes must be severely damaged, or "pretty much uninhabitable," Larson said.
In some parts of Northwood, the assessment went pretty quickly.
Only one trailer was left standing for the FEMA team to evaluate in the mobile home park where resident Larry Weisz, 57, died.
The town's second mobile home park wasn't in much better shape.
"There's nothing much to assess in this area," said Laurie Hassell, FEMA public affairs officer.
Teams had to ask residents for their addresses because house numbers and street signs didn't survive the storm.
The Red Cross said damage estimates range from $38 million to $59 million. All but 29 of the town's 460 homes were destroyed, damaged or affected by the tornado.
Each FEMA team included representatives from the Department of Human Services, members of the U.S. Small Business Administration, FEMA officials and local volunteers.
The local people help the teams with the assessment process, Jensen said.
"They're familiar with the area, they're familiar with which businesses are occupied, and they're familiar with the lay of the land," Jensen said.
Northwood resident James Yates stopped to tell FEMA officials about the damage to his home and his family's homes.
"If they can help us, that's great," Yates said. "There's a lot of hurting people here."
Residents are eligible for unemployment benefits if their workplace is not operational due to the tornado.
Job Service North Dakota staff will be available starting at 8 a.m. today at Alerus Financial, 503 Washington St., to provide information and assistance to applicants.
By filing a claim before midnight Saturday, residents can receive unemployment insurance benefits sooner.
School officials plan for students' return to class
Students of the Northwood school devastated by Sunday night's tornado could return to class as soon as Tuesday.
School officials met Wednesday and devised a plan to get students back in classes.
The 250 students in grades kindergarten through 12 will attend school in Hatton, said Brett Miller, public information officer with the National Guard.
The high school students will integrate into the Hatton school and elementary students will attend class in modular classrooms that will be brought in, Miller said.
The Northwood students will attend class there for at least a semester, Miller said.
Forum reporter Teri Finneman contributed to this report.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590