One Week After Tornado: Waiting on FEMA's Answer

Neighboring cities offer help but wait on FEMA for dollar amounts.

One week after a tornado with winds up to 200 m.p.h. hit St. Louis County, the St. Louis County Municipal League is coordinating cleanup efforts in the devastated areas.

But the Municipal League isn't recruiting any extra help until they hear whether there will be funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to League Executive Director Tim Fischesser. 

"Everybody likes to go slow, until FEMA kind of opens the door," Fischesser said. He pointed out that St. Louis County is pursuing a FEMA-approved vendor that would help multiple cities by collecting debris, by way of preparing for potential funding.

Sunset Hills and Crestwood were denied federal aid by FEMA after a New Year's Eve tornado—ranked with winds up to 150 m.p.h.—destroyed at least 20 homes.

The Municipal League has asked nearby cities to aid in clearing debris from the Good Friday tornado in order to let residents get back into their houses. 

Meanwhile, newly-elected St. Louis County  mobilized staff to identify property damaged by the Good Friday tornado.

Missouri law allows assessors to take off the tax rolls properties deemed uninhabitable by a natural disaster, according to the website of the Pattonville School District in the Bridgeton and Maryland Heights area.

The assessor's office will conduct field inspections in the areas hit by the tornado.

Property owners can call the assessor about properties hard hit. Those with residential property should call 314-615-4230. Those with commercial property should call 314-615-4968.

The assessor's office will send out notices in mid-May and mid-June alerting owners of residential and commercial properties, respectively, about reassessed values of their property in 2011 as compared to its value in 2009.

FEMA was set to conduct assessments of storm-hit cities this past week and will notify the city about the results, Fischesser said. 

The process is documented  on the Maryland Heights Patch.

Immediately after the storm, local cities activated mutual aid agreements that enabled multiple fire and police departments to work together. Additionally, public works crews have offered to help in storm-damaged cities. 

  • Hazelwood and Overland have assisted Berkeley with public works.
  • Florissant has assisted Ferguson with public works.
  • Creve Coeur offered to help Bridgeton and Maryland Heights by providing chainsaws and other equipment. 
  • Sunset Hills volunteered its resources.

Fischesser and the Municipal League's president, Glendale Mayor Rich Magee, contacted the county's Emergency Operations Center the day after the Good Friday tornado, and they paid visits to affected cities.

Municipal League representatives also contacted unaffected cities, inviting them to adopt communities that experienced damage. 

It's not the first time the Municipal League has acted as a go-between for cities and the county following natural disasters: It helped out after ice storms in both 2006 and 2008, Fischesser said. 

He said non-government agencies also have provided help, pulling debris from private property to the curb so that it can be hauled away. 

"It's a really nice, fairly organized effort," Fischesser said.

Jean Whitney April 30, 2011 at 09:03 PM
This is very interesting!


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