FEMA assesses storm damage in St. Louis area

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ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI)--Victims of Friday`s tornado outbreak in the St. Louis area are still assessing the damage to their homes and their lives.

"It hasn`t registered yet really," said Harvey Pollack of Weldon Spring, whose home was hit by a tornado and is now condemned. "Every once in a while you experience the magnitude of it, but for the most part it`s just shock."

Assessing the magnitude of the damage is also one of the jobs done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But even with two FEMA crews now in the St. Louis area, they still have a lot of ground to cover.

One team is concentrating on St. Louis County while the other tours St. Charles County,  rating the damage as they visit homes and businesses hit by either tornadoes or floods.

"Our reports go to the state, then the state looks at it and determines whether they can handle the situation on their own. If they don`t then the governor sends that request directly to the White House," said FEMA spokesperson Renee Bafalis.

The FEMA teams are led on their inspections by state and county officials, some of whom have visited the damaged areas several times already, but they are still finding it a learning experience.

"In that process, we are taking a little closer look at some things that we didn`t have time to see before and we are finding there is more here than was originally even thought of," said St. Charles County`s Building Division Director Richard 'Rocky' Morgan.

If either county is declared a federal disaster area, the federal government can help storm victims with rental assistance, reimbursement for lost property and storm related medical expenses.

FEMA assessors spend just a few minutes looking at each home, but the people who live in those places, or who used to live in those places, return again and again making their own assessments about a future that can seem pretty bleak.

"We come back every day to pick things out, survey the damage and say our goodbyes to our things," Pollack said.

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