One-time benefit helps thousands
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.