Solace at flood relief event

CAROL AND PERRY FALES discuss the situation in their home with Dennis Walter of Homeland Security at last week’s MARC event.

But financial help still an unknown

By Per Peterson

Tammy Smith has lived in her home on 6th Street for 21 years, but is one of a number of homeowners who can’t go back into their house because of structural damage from the July 3 flood.

She is currently living with her son in Balaton and is finding it hard to be confident she will receive financial help to assist in her recovery.

“The Red Cross went down there (in her basement) and looked and said I’m gonna need a general contractor to do some masonry work, put some beams up,” she said. “Furnace is shot, hot water heater is shot, refrigerator is shot. They’re saying unless FEMA does individual help, we won’t get anything. They say to keep calling the Red Cross to get updates; I don’t know where to go from there.”

That’s what brought Smith to the two-day Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) event on Thursday. Flood victims from Lyon, Murray and Redwood counties were invited to the VMC on either Thursday or Friday to visit with various groups during the event, which was spearheaded by Minnesota Volunteer Organizations Active in the Disaster (MNVOAD).

“I sit and wonder every day” if Tracy residents will receive individual assistance, Smith said. “It has not been easy.”

More than a dozen agencies were set up at tables that were spread out on the VMC gym floor, including Homeland Security Emergency Management (HSEM), Farm Service Agency, Lutheran Social Services, American Red Cross, Southwest Health and Human Services, the Salvation Army, IOCC Headwaters, University of Minnesota Extension, and United Community Action Partnership (UCAP). Their goals ranged from answering questions, to offering assistance. Some were there to listen and give advice.

“Flooding is the absolute worst it could possibly be when it comes to disasters, in my eyes,” said Kim Schwich, southwest Minnesota field representative for the Salvation Army. “If a tornado comes though, it goes away and you say, ‘OK, now we have to deal with it.’ Floods are a little harder to deal with. Mother Nature is hard to deal with. She rains, then she doesn’t, then she rains more, and we really can’t pump the water out of our basement because it comes right back in. People are frustrated because it’s been so long already (since the flood).”

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.