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Storm Victim Reacts To FEMA Denial

July 11, 2014, 6:03 PM by Hailey Higgins

Storm Victim Reacts To FEMA Denial

FEMA won't help South Dakota homeowners flooded out during the June storm.

The federal agency’s Individual Assistance programs offer low-interest loans for businesses and small grants for homeowners. While the state knew it was a long-shot, many people in Canton were hoping for the federal help.

The Voss family will not be getting help after several feet of raw sewage spewed into their basement.

"I was devastated. I seriously began to cry knowing that there was not going to be any help," Voss said.

The damage forced the family to throw away everything in three of their children's basement bedrooms. Half of their home is completely stripped and Vicki Voss estimates the family is out $70,000.

"We knew that that's where our funding, so-to-speak, was going to have to come from: from family, from friends, from the bank," Voss said.

FEMA's administrator says the state's damage wasn't severe enough to warrant the federal help.

South Dakota's Emergency Manager Kristi Turman says there is no clear-cut threshold for Individual Assistance, but admits the state's population likely played a role.

"When you're looking at numbers and impact, South Dakota just isn't able to show that like they are in other bigger states," Turman said.

Turman says the State will continue reaching out to non-profits and other organizations to help storm victims. In the meantime, Voss says it will take quite a while before things get back to normal.

"It just means in many years that Daniel and I are going to be placed in what I call, house poor," Voss said. "Our house is not going to be worth what we are paying on it and that's the hard part."

The last time South Dakota qualified for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for individual assistance was back in 2011 for damage caused by Missouri River flooding.

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