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FEMA workers walk through St. Louis neighborhoods, registering people for flood aid

Federal Emergency Management Agency workers Wilmary Medina and Elaine Braswell canvass along Cabanne Ave. and North Dr. in University City.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Federal Emergency Management Agency workers Wilmary Medina and Elaine Braswell canvass along Cabanne Avenue and North Drive on Wednesday in University City. St. Louis and St. Louis County received federal major disaster recognitions after historic flooding last month.

Orange notices marking buildings as condemned are stuck to the front doors of rows of houses in University City, where devastating flash floods last month endangered lives and damaged property.

On Wednesday, staff members from the Federal Emergency Management Agency walked through the neighborhood and others hit hard by recent flooding. They knocked on doors and looked for people who qualify for federal assistance. FEMA personnel visited St. Louis and St. Louis and St. Charles counties.

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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
FEMA worker Peter Boyer, right, speaks to a colleague on Wednesday while canvassing to inform residents of the agency’s support along Cabanne Avenue in University City.
FEMA arrives in a flooded St. Louis

FEMA is offering money to help flood survivors make repairs, replace damaged property and find new housing.

The federal agency has paid out more than $1.4 million to St. Louis flood survivors so far, a spokesperson said. The flooding July 25-27 created at least $35 million in uninsured property damage and emergency response costs, according to the office of Gov. Mike Parson.

The Biden administration on Monday approved Parson’s request to issue a major disaster declaration on Monday, thereby qualifying flood survivors for FEMA’s grants to individuals.

The chance to apply for help was welcomed by Alphonso Chappelle, who has rented a home in University City for about four years. He greeted FEMA workers on his front porch and registered for aid.

“My neighbor called and told me my car was floating down the street,” Chappelle said of his experience in the July floods. “So I came out on the porch, and sure enough all the cars that were parked over were floating down and kind of stockpiled. And then a dumpster floated in from around the corner.”

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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
FEMA worker Peter Boyer, left, speaks to Alphonso Chappelle outside his home on Wednesday along Cabanne Avenue in University City.

Laverne Williams-Lacy has lived several doors down for 40 years. At the height of the flooding, she was trapped in her home as her finished basement filled with water. Her family’s three cars floated away.

She would be willing to sell — if she can find a buyer.

“I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to be bought out. If we were, that would be fine. But we wouldn’t be able to sell, with people knowing this has happened more than twice,” she said.

Overflow crowds have lined up for hours at community meetings to receive information about disaster assistance. Charitable organizations have also distributed food and basic supplies.

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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
A disaster relief food package sits along a driveway on Cabanne Avenue on Wednesday in University City.

FEMA can offer different types of aid depending on each applicant’s situation, said John Mills, an External Affairs officer.

“We're working with people one on one,” he said. “We want to hear from people directly about what their unmet needs are, when it comes to their living situation — and we'll work with them to try to get them some assistance.”

FEMA workers carried iPads on Wednesday as they invited flood survivors to register with the agency. But many of the residents hit hardest already have fled their homes for alternate housing.

Flood survivors can apply for FEMA assistance online at disasterassistance.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-3362. Immediate assistance from charitable organizations including the United Way is available by calling 2-1-1.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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