ESSEX COUNTY, Va. -- Weeks after eight tornadoes ripped through Virginia, FEMA has denied Governor Terry McAuliffe’s request for federal assistance to help residents and homeowners impacted by the February 24 tornadoes.
In a matter of seconds, Melanie Blue and her three children lost everything when a tornado destroyed her Tappahannock rental house in Essex County.
“The tornado had picked up our home and threw us into the backyard,” Blue said. “I’m without a home, I have no insurance on anything I had in my home.”
Blue suffered a broken neck when the EF-3 tornado hit her home with winds in excess of 140 mph. Thankfully, her family survived the ordeal, but the tornado has effectively shattered their lives.
Blue talked to CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit via Skype, and said she is now living with her aunt and uncle while her kids stay with various other relatives.
“When you’re used to waking up every morning with your children and coming home to your children and now I don’t get to hardly see my children except when they come to visit me, it’s really hard,” Blue said.
According to the request by McAuliffe, the highest concentration of damage occurred in Appomattox, Essex, and Sussex Counties. This includes 64 destroyed homes and a total of 251 homes impacted in the three counties.
Blue said she desperately needs a new home, but so do others so there is a waiting list.
She said FEMA’s decision to reject the state’s request for assistance leaves her in disbelief.
“That really hurts because the tornado came through and destroyed everything we had and right now we need their help,” she said.
In denying the governor’s request for relief FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said the damage from the tornadoes “was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the commonwealth, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”
The Governor’s office said an appeal will be submitted to FEMA.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help Blue and her children rebuild. If you would like to donate, click here.