Hurricane leaves 10 local families without a home

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Black Belt Chapter of the American Red Cross determined that at least 10 people are homeless because of Hurricane Ivan.

The ARC brought a special damage assessment team in from Montgomery to determine the extent of the damage caused by Ivan on Sunday. The team has been traveling all over Dallas County investigating claims of damage to determine whether or not aid can be given to needy families. The ARC also depended on phone calls from Dallas County families to help determine where the damage hit.

“Everyday we get more and more phone calls,” area ARC Director Jeanette Crusoe said.

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The latest assessment shows that four homes were destroyed, 19 sustained major damage, 30 sustained minor damage, and 11 families were affected in other ways and requested assistance.

Dallas County mobile homes didn’t fare any better. Six were destroyed, another six sustained major damage, 11 minor damage and 3 effected in other ways.

The ARC has already aided families residing in the four destroyed homes. Crusoe and her volunteers are doing everything they can to get help to the others.

“We’re working on it, the process is slow,” she said.

The number is significantly lower than estimates from the Dallas County EMA, but the data collection methods were different as well. Brett Howard, EMA Director, said his count was based on reports from area police officers, firefighters and sheriff’s deputies, who drove throughout the county and counted houses.

The ARC team is investigating each individual claim on a case-by-case basis, which is another reason the count is still incomplete.

In the next few days, Crusoe and other ARC workers will be doing everything they can to get assistance to those families who need it. They’ll continue to collect data on the damage done by Ivan, and Crusoe said today a disaster assistance team would be in Selma.

In that team, Crusoe said, eight people will have the ability to give direct financial assistance to those in need.

Also, the team will include a mental health associate and a general health associate, to give counseling to those that need it and answer basic health questions.

Like everyone else involved in recovery efforts, Crusoe stresses that it will take some time to get aid to those who need it.

“The devastation is just so vast,” she said.

For more information on disaster relief or to volunteer, call 874-4641.