Sunday evening’s (Mar. 3) tornado caused a lot of damage to multiple properties across the county, especially in the Merriwether area. However, according to Suzy Spurgeon, Director of Emergency Management and with whom the Advertiser spoke just days after the storm regarding cleanup and rebuilding efforts, our area, and our state for that matter, will not qualify for assistance from FEMA. As Spurgeon explained, Edgefield County does not meet the “financial threshold.” FEMA allots funding for assistance after approximately $6.5 million in damages state wide. Regarding that threshold, Spurgeon stated, “We’re not even close.”
When asked what steps property owners should take in getting repairs to their damaged property, Spurgeon said that the first step is for home and property owners to contact their insurance providers. From there, if further assistance is needed, they can petition non-profits and the faith based community ( i.e., churches and denominational associations). Unfortunately, the Advertiser has already been made aware of at least one home considered destroyed by the tornado that was not insured. Those who did not have insurance are left with the option of appealing to non-profits, the faith based community, and the kindness and generosity of others for assistance. One non-profit, the Red Cross, is already providing assistance to some of the areas hit by the tornado. However, as Spurgeon reminded, “There’s only so much they can do.” Non-profits cannot provide new housing nor can they provide long-term housing. Additionally, both non-profits and faith based organizations that assist with cleanup of debris will only cut, move and/or stack debris; removal of the debris is still the responsibility of the home or property owner.
Spurgeon encouraged those who made need assistance after the tornado to contact her office at 803-637-2123. She can help route those in need to the proper non-profit and/or faith based ministry that can assist them. Also, by allowing her office to coordinate this effort, Spurgeon said that duplication of services can be prevented.
As for removing debris, Spurgeon cautioned citizens NOT to push debris to the side of or into the roadway. She said that DOT will not remove debris from private property for home and property owners even if they push it to the roadsides. The removal of debris on private property is, as previously noted, the responsibility of the home or property owner.