One-time ben­e­fit helps thou­sands

Cherokee County Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By TERRY DEAN Edi­tor

Chero­kee County Depart­ment of Hu­man Re­sources teamed up with other agents from across the state last week to help thou­sands of peo­ple need­ing as­sis­tance fol­low­ing the April 27 storms which dev­as­tated many ar­eas of the state and caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age in Chero­kee County.

A three-day pro­gram was set up at Fairhaven United Methodist Church on High­way 411. The pro­gram be­gan Wed­nes­day, May 18 and ran through Wed­nes­day, May 20.

Teresa Sauls, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Chero­kee County Depart­ment of Hu­man Re­sources, said the pur­pose of the pro­gram was to pro­vide emer­gency food as­sis­tance ben­e­fits for res­i­dents of Chero­kee County who ex­pe­ri­enced food loss be­cause of the storms.

Those who qual­i­fied for as­sis­tance were is­sued an EBT Card to pur­chase food for a one-month pe­riod.

This is a one-time ben­e­fit, she ex­plained.

“It is go­ing well,” said Sauls. “We served over 1,219 house­holds yes­ter­day. Right now it is close to 500 be­fore lunch. It has been pretty steady to­day.”

“This is the first time this has been done in Chero­kee County,” said Sauls.

“Some­times af­ter hur­ri­canes in South Alabama they have op­er­ated this type of pro­gram but this is the first time Chero­kee County has ever op­er­ated a pro­gram. Be­cause of the enor­mity of the disas­ter and the ef­fects it has had through­out the state, our depart­ment re­quested per­mis­sion from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, USDA, to pro­vide a pro­gram so that we could meet the needs of the cit­i­zens who ex­pe­ri­enced food loss.”

“Some peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enced food loss just based on hav­ing no power for sev­eral days,” noted Sauls.

“For some there was a loss of in­come be­cause maybe their em­ployer did not have elec­tric­ity or their place of em­ploy­ment was dam­aged and they missed work and as a re­sult, there was a re­duc­tion in their in­come. So that is one of the fac­tors we are con­sid­er­ing in the in­ter­view process and in de­ter­min­ing whether peo­ple are el­i­gi­ble for the one-time ben­e­fit.”

“There have been nu­mer­ous meet­ings since April 27 by our pres­i­dent, state of­fi­cials, lo­cal of­fi­cials to de­ter­mine what pro­ce­dures can be used for de­bris re­moval,” said Salter.

“Thanks to our gov­er­nor, our pres­i­dent, our cat­a­strophic event is be­ing han­dled en­tirely dif­fer­ent from any other. Ev­ery mea­sure think­able is be­ing used in an at­tempt to meet the needs of those who have lost so much within the storms.”

“The pres­i­dent has or­dered the Core to be avail­able to as­sist in the cleanup of our state and our county,” said Salter.

“As stated be­fore, mea­sures are be­ing taken with this event that have never been tried be­fore. The pri­mary rea­son the Core would have to en­ter pri­vate prop­erty is for health and safety is­sues to help those prop­erty own­ers who do not have any means such as in­surance to pre­pare them to pre­pare their prop­erty for ei­ther tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent houses.

“If not for health and safety is­sues, the Core will not seek a right of en­try to a per­son’s prop­erty.”

“The only time po­lice pow­ers would even be con­sid­ered to en­ter pri­vate prop­erty is if the prop­erty owner de­nied an­other right­ful pas­sage to their prop­erty or if fam­ily has moved tem­po­rar­ily but can­not be con­tacted to give per­mis­sion for right of en­try,” Salter ex­plain.

“There is a process to be fol­lowed in an at­tempt to lo­cate the owner be­fore en­try to the prop­erty. The Core other­wise would not en­ter upon pri­vate prop­erty. It would be the owner’s de­ci­sion not to al­low the right of en­try.”

“What we are ask­ing the com­mis­sion to do is to re­quest FEMA to ar­range for the re­moval of de­bris from el­i­gi­ble pri­vate prop­erty in Chero­kee County pur­suant to FEMA’s disas- ter as stated pol­icy, and also to au­tho­rize chair­man to sign this doc­u­ment dated to­day, May 19,” said Salter.

The com­mis­sion ap­proved the pro­posal and au­tho­rized the chair­per­son to sign.

Bev­erly Daniel, di­rec­tor, Chero­kee County Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, urged res­i­dents to be­gin push­ing their de­bris to­ward the right of way as much as pos­si­ble to en­able sooner pickup and dis­posal.

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