Tornado recovery switches from short-term to long-term

Canton citizens are still trying to figure out how to put back the pieces of their homes and day-to-day lives.

It's been more than a month since the deadly tornado outbreak in Van Zandt County and homeowners, like David Birdsong, are still in desperate need of funds to rebuild.

There is practically nothing left of Birdsong's home. It was ripped away while he and his wife were inside, and they’ve been clearing debris ever since that dreadful night.

Their home was insured, but Birdsong isn't sure if his policy will be enough to cover the cost of rebuilding. 

"I don't know, that's where we're at,” said Birdsong. “We don't know."

That's the case for dozens of homeowners, many of whom still have no idea how they will afford to rebuild.

"It will be a year before we get rebuilt,” said Birdsong.

Many of those homeowners were hoping to get some assistance from FEMA, but that doesn't seem likely.

"There will not be FEMA help. The threshold for the state is $36 million and at last count we were only at nine million dollars," said Russell Hopkins, community chairman for the Long-term Recovery Group, an organization started in response to the tornado outbreak in April.

The group will be overseeing the long-term recovery efforts including the $300,000 that was donated to the county for the tornado victims.

"When we're looking at $9 million plus on individual damage, $300,000 will not go far," said Hopkins.

Hopkins said two case workers are assessing families individually to make sure those funds are going where they are needed the most.

"In the end we will set our priorities on the types of things that we think will benefit the community the most, and those funds will be dispersed to contractors and building suppliers," he stated.

For now, Birdsong says he's just thankful for all the help he and others in this situation have already gotten.

"The people have been so generous, they brought food and water by,” said Birdsong. “We had to turn them down, they brought so much stuff by here." 

© 2017 KYTX-TV


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