FEMA continues going door-to-door to help storm survivors - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

FEMA continues going door-to-door to help storm survivors

FEMA disaster survivor assistance teams have continued going door-to-door, helping people register for financial help. (Source: WALB) FEMA disaster survivor assistance teams have continued going door-to-door, helping people register for financial help. (Source: WALB)
They've been knocking on doors of homes that were hit by the January 2nd and 22nd storms.  (Source: WALB) They've been knocking on doors of homes that were hit by the January 2nd and 22nd storms.  (Source: WALB)
"I was amazed at how fast things went and how concerned they were for us," explained Kristy Stewart. (Source: WALB) "I was amazed at how fast things went and how concerned they were for us," explained Kristy Stewart. (Source: WALB)
"It's about them. It's not about me. So, that's our compassion and empathy," explained Kosciolek. (Source: WALB) "It's about them. It's not about me. So, that's our compassion and empathy," explained Kosciolek. (Source: WALB)
"You can go to any Disaster Recovery Center that's been opened in any of the affected counties," said Bafalis. (Source: WALB) "You can go to any Disaster Recovery Center that's been opened in any of the affected counties," said Bafalis. (Source: WALB)
TURNER CO., GA (WALB) -

Many people are still searching for help after the devastating storms that hit the area in January.

FEMA disaster survivor assistance teams have continued going door-to-door, helping people register for financial help.

They've been knocking on doors of homes that were hit by the January 2nd and 22nd storms. 

If someone's not home, they talk to neighbors to find out where that person is staying.

The tornado on January 22 moved Kristy Stewart's home on Highway 41 North in Turner County several feet off its foundation, and a wall was completely blown out.

She and her family were inside when the tornado came through, but all were safe other than minor injuries.

Thursday, she stressed how thankful she was for the compassion she felt from the FEMA staff members who met with her.

"Just, it was bad. We were inside it, and it was here and gone before we even knew what was going on," Stewart explained. "We're alive. I keep saying that. We're alive and proud to be here," said Stewart.

On Thursday, FEMA disaster survivor assistance team members John Kosciolek and Chad Hershey met with Stewart, just one stop on their door-to-door process. It's still going on more than two and a half weeks after the storm.

"I was amazed at how fast things went and how concerned they were for us," explained Stewart. "It wasn't like, I felt like we were going to be a number. They were really here talking to me and following up with us."

Teams have been canvasing the hard-hit areas, searching for anyone they can help register for federal assistance.

But, that's not the only job in this boots-on-the-ground effort.

"He helped me with everything," Stewart said of Hershey, who she originally met at the donation distribution center. "Every step of the way, every single step he helped me."

Hershey and Stewart now have a personal relationship, as he's worked with her on her application.

Kosciolek said that these teams bring much-needed kindness to the survivors they meet.

"It's about them. It's not about me. So, that's our compassion and empathy," explained Kosciolek. "If they need to cry on our shoulder that's what we do."

Stewart said that's exactly what she longed for.

"When we got up, I was devastated. I mean devastated" Stewart said. "I did not know what we were going to do, and they've helped us put one foot in front of the other."

These teams will stay in south Georgia until they've reached as many people as possible.

They report their findings to the state and local emergency management levels as well.

The teams have been helping to not only register everyone with FEMA, but also solve any problems with existing registrations.

Some people have reported being denied assistance once they register. 

A representative for FEMA said that if you get a denial letter, you need to bring that into a FEMA disaster recovery center because that may not be the end of your FEMA assistance possibilities.

"Please bring that letter with you. Don't throw it away. Bring it into the center, let us help you in the process to figure out what the issues are and see if we can assist you in fixing those problems," said FEMA Spokesperson Renee Bafalis. "You can go to any Disaster Recovery Center that's been opened in any of the affected counties. You don't have to live in a particular county that the center is, but you have to live in a county that has been federally declared a disaster area."

There are Disaster Recovery Centers open in Turner and Crisp Counties among others affected by the storms.

In Crisp County, the DRC is located at 112 Eddie Road in Cordele and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The DRC in Turner County is located at 354 Lamar Street in Ashburn and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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