“Take responsibility for your own disaster recovery”

FROMBERG — As Fromberg residents worked to clear mud and river water from their homes Thursday, a FEMA spokesperson said people should manage their expectations for federal aid.

“If you’re waiting for the feds or somebody else to help you, that help may or may not come, and I don’t know when it will come,” FEMA spokesman Leo Skinner said Thursday in a statement. Stillwater County. “So I always tell people, it’s a hard line to tell people, ‘Take responsibility for your own disaster recovery.'”

On Thursday, Gov. Greg Gianforte asked President Joe Biden to activate FEMA’s individual assistance program to reimburse people whose homes were rendered unlivable during unprecedented spring flooding. That same day, teams gathering information to prove Montana needed the program examined property damage to the Fromberg home of Joshua and Monic Haney.

Mud from their basement covered the Haneys as they showed assessors where the water was reaching. In an attempt to dry out their basement, the Haneys had turned on a large red industrial fan. The couple picked it up at the local high school, where the city was pooling resources and donations. Monic Haney said they had breakfast at school that morning.

The Haneys had not anticipated that the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River would flood their home on June 13. On FEMA’s flood map, the Haneys’ home, like many homes in Fromberg, was within the 0.2% chance of annual flood zone, or in other words, a one-time chance of flooding. every 500 years.

“We have insurance,” Joshua Haney said. “We have home insurance, all like that, but like everyone else, we were told ‘Don’t worry about flood insurance, it’s just $10,000 a year that you don’t need. .'”

Now a pond remains in the couple’s yard as a reminder of how much water has passed through their home.

Water levels have risen beyond the 100-year-old floodplain mapped by FEMA, said Sara Hartley, the state’s risk mitigation officer. The governor shared preliminary statistics on the flood-damaged property in his request for additional federal assistance. The water damaged about 115 primary residences, including some of the houses washed away by the floods.

Gianforte’s application for the individual assistance program included the individual and household program. This help could include funds for temporary housing, repairs to owner-occupied homes, funds for uninsured or uninsured expenses caused by a disaster, such as a flooded car, and money for some homeowners to repair or build stronger homes.

Rebuilding homes with flood mitigation upgrades will be important for people who remain in the area, said Traci Sears, coordinator of Montana’s National Flood Insurance Program. If people don’t build with mitigation in mind, their insurance premiums could end up being higher than otherwise, Sears said.

After observing flooding in Montana since 2007, Sears said a strong community advocate was essential after a disaster of this magnitude. During the 2011 floods in Musselshell County, some programs included low interest loans for people to rebuild and funds for people to rebuild structures, but some of these funding streams can take up to a decade.

People should look to their local communities first, said Skinner, the FEMA spokesperson.

Helena Habitat for Humanity was in Fromberg to get pumps for people to evacuate water from their basements and to help high-pressure wash houses covered in dirt. Habitat volunteer coordinator Alex Garrett said the group needs more volunteers.

“It’s not glorious work,” Garrett said. “Bring mud boots, gloves, but we could really use more labor.”

Fromberg recovered from the flooding, Monic Haney said. However, they are still frustrated that FEMA money never comes or takes months or years to reach people. And even then, programs don’t make people whole.

“The government needs to step up,” Joshua Haney said. “We help the government. We pay our taxes. And it’s time for us to get some money back too. These hard-working people, these salt-of-the-earth people, I would do anything I can for them. And I want our government to do everything it can for us too.

Those interested in learning more about ways to help can explore the links below:

Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity

Carbon County Donations and Volunteers Page

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