FEMA Denial for South Carolina

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News 12 First at Five; April 3, 2008

BATH, S.C. -- The reality of no federal help from FEMA for South Carolina storm victims is setting in, while the clean up is still underway. Nineteen tornados touched down in the state last month, some of those in Aiken County.

Just two weeks ago, Sabrina Bagwell was optimistic FEMA was going to help her rebuild her uninsured home. Now, her optimism met reality when she found out she was getting no help from FEMA.

Some sweeping changes are now underway in Sabrina Bagwell's home. Her Brother-in-Law is helping her through what's been a roller coaster ride after a tornado ripped through her home more than 2 weeks ago.

"It's been up and down, up and down," she says. "I didn't know what time it was, what day it was. I just cried everyday."

A quick look at what the damage was like and you can understand why she cried. A tree went right through her roof, splitting her home in half.

"It fell on top of the refrigerator, went out the side of my roof (on the other side of the house). This whole room (living room) was demolished. There was nothing I could keep in (there). Nothing," says Sabrina.

A few days after the storm, she had nothing but hope. FEMA and other disaster agencies toured her house.

"They seemed real positive about giving us help," she adds.

A hope of help that's now been torn away with the news, FEMA will not be providing assistance to anyone in South Carolina. That's because the state can provide the money themselves to help, according to FEMA.

"I was shocked that they weren't going to give me any help at all," says Sabrina.

"It's terrible that they won't help people. I mean, I'm getting help through my family, but it would be a lot more help if they can help," she adds.

The state saw a total of $43 million in damages, but only about $2.3 million of that was to homes and businesses that are uninsured or under-insured. Not enough for FEMA to step in.

"I think it's sad. I mean, this whole community needs help," says Sabrina.

The community is now rallying together behind Sabrina and her family. A church is helping with rebuilding the framework and roof of the house. Sabrina knows she's going to make it and of course, do one very important thing.

"I'm going to be insured now," she says.

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