Picking up the pieces: rebuilding after the tornado
by Michele Longworth
Dec 30, 2013 | 1478 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the New Year beginning, many people in Brookport and Unionville are still be picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild their lives and homes following the EF-3 tornado that struck on Nov. 17.

On Dec. 12, Federal Coordinating Officer Donald Keldson visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) center at the Brookport Library. Keldson is the FEMA officer assigned to the Illinois tornados disaster. He told media during his visit that statewide, over $1 million has been allocated for tornado victims from the Nov. 17 tornado outbreak.

Out of that $1 million, $418,000 has been has been designated specifically for Massac County residents who have applied for federal assistance.

According to Keldson, as of Dec. 12, in Massac County there have been 225 FEMA applications filed.

Keldson emphasized the importance of registering with FEMA and hopes that


tornado victims have taken the time to register.

As for county residents, according to Massac County Supervisor of Assessments Gary Hamm, his office has 177 homes that will be given a partial reassessment for 2013 assessment year with taxes payable in 2014.

Hamm said there are approximately 67 homes totally destroyed and he will take the building value to $0.

“The challenge will be in my office’s ability to know when the building are fixed or replaced, which people will need to notify my office as they complete repairs or rebuild,” said Hamm.

“If a person lives outside city limits, then they need to apply for a permit in my office,” said Hamm.

According to Hamm, if a resident rebuilds to what they had before, then the assessment will remain as it was prior to the date of the tornado. However, he emphasized if the property sells, then it losses that lifetime privilege.

Homeowners within the city limits of Brookport will need to apply for a building permit. According to Brookport Mayor Pro Temp Tom Souders. Specifically, property owners who have land that will have to be raised to meet the flood plain ordinance will have to apply for a Base Flood Plain Elevation Certificate. Souders said to his knowledge no one had filed to receive one yet.

Souders said from what Brookport has been told, the city must abide by the Flood Plain Ordinance or else the city would be pulled out of the program and homeowners would not be able to receive flood insurance. “It’s just something we have to do,” he said, noting that many of the trailers that were destroyed in the city were rental properties.

According to Souders, after the new year begins, the clean up efforts and debris removal will begin again. However, no date has been set. “It depends on the weather,” he said, pointing out they are at the mercy of the weather.

Souders also gave a quick update on his friend, Mayor John Klaffer, who continues to recuperate from a head on collision he sustained following the tornado as he delivered mail on his route. “He is healing slowly,” said Souders, also saying that Klaffer is undergoing a lot of physical therapy and still in a lot of pain.

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