Numbers asking for disaster help still rising

FEMA workers visit Suwannee County residents


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The number of people turning to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help continues to rise.

The latest tallies by county of people registering for federal assistance after Tropical Storm Debby show the numbers rise the farther west you go.

In Baker County, 138 have registered for assistance, 210 in Bradford, 246 in Clay, 732 in Columbia and 1,178 in Suwannee.

People still have many questions about what the federal government can do.

Groups of FEMA workers continued to go into neighborhoods Wednesday and answer the tough questions.

RELATED: Locations of FEMA centers

Live Oak was one of the hardest hit areas in north Florida. There are big piles of garbage outside every home.

Furniture, carpet and TVs ruined during the storm sit along roads.

"It's just like a disaster, seeing all this stuff and knowing that other people have lost everything they've got," said 70-year-old resident Dorothy Harden, who's lived in her home since 1969.

She and most of the people in the neighborhood have already registered with FEMA. They're just waiting to see what happens.

"The biggest question is, 'When we will get the assistance we need,'" said Norma Eubanks, of FEMA community relations.

Eubanks was one of the workers going door to door answering questions and pointing people in the right direction.

Among problems workers in southern Suwannee County are facing are the inaccessible parts of the county.

"Very, very bad. There are areas that we cannot get to at this time because there is water on both sides of the houses," Eubanks said.

If someone qualifies for a FEMA grant, Eubanks said it takes 10 to 14 days from the date of inspection to arrive to the people who need it. The grant for personal property can be as high as 3,100.

Joann Conrad is hoping FEMA can help pay for repairs to her home. She's already been given mosquito repellant and a tarp.

"The tarp is quite large, probably much larger than I need, but it will still be a good thing to have ... for my roof," Conrad said.

There are three ways to register with FEMA: in person, on the phone or online.

The Live Oak FEMA Center has had nearly 900 visits since the disaster struck.