FEMA Begins Disaster Assessments

It's the first step toward a federal disaster area declaration.

Federal Emergency Management Officials began touring the Stoughton area this morning, along with other damaged areas in Richland and Vernon Counties.

This on day five of the cleanup: as homeowners try to make way for a new beginning.

"The roof got lifted up and shifted and the garage fell down on top of a truck that was right here," says Heidi Golbach as she points to the damages to her home on Alice Circle, "The house was totaled, the insurance company totaled the house."

Now Golbach is in the process of tearing down, cleaning up and starting over.

Although she received all the money her house was insured for, she says it's not enough to cover her losses and cleanup.

"We're all very frustrated," she says, "We don't know what to do; we don't know where we're going to come up with the money just to clean up our areas and to start rebuilding our lives."

Some of the money could come from the federal government. Tuesday FEMA officials began their damage assessment with other state and local officers.

"They're looking for minor damage, major damage, homes destroyed," says FEMA Public Information Officer Sam Ventura, "They'll look at as many homes as they can, they'll talk to as many people as they can to try to get it done as quickly as possible."

Once the figures have been tallied, FEMA gives the data to the governor.

"If he feels the state doesn't have the resources to handle all of this, his next step is a formal request from the president," explains Ventura.

"I think there were 14 trees across the back and I didn't even count the stumps over here," says Gayland Snorek as he points to his once lush treeline.

Snorek lives behind Golbach. He's not as worried about future federal funds. He says at least his house is standing.

"The house will have to be reroofed, the gutters will have to be put on and the siding all has to be taken off and redone," says Snorek, "You still have your life, you can't replace that."

But as the days move on, the shock of this now barren landscape continues to set in.

"I just found my son's little blue jean jacket and I know I need to throw it away but I can't," says Golbach as tears well up in her eyes, "It's a lot worse today; I'm feeling a lot more. I'm not as numb as I used to be."

FEMA officials say it could be 7-10 days before a decision on federal aide is reached.

Meanwhile town hall officials are asking all general volunteers to come back on Thursday, once the area roads are cleared.

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