Vero tornado victims will not receive federal assistance

VERO BEACH, FL (WFLX) - It's been exactly three weeks since an EF-0 tornado, spawned from a band from Isaac, touched down in Vero Beach on August 27. For some of the 95 households impacted, it's been three weeks of repairing the devastation left behind.

Now that Governor Rick Scott determined the tornado victims are not eligible for any federal assistance, it's a cleanup they must handle on their own.

"Unfortunately, this disaster, as far as FEMA was concerned, was too small," said Dale Justice, Emergency Management Coordinator for the Emergency Operations Center. "But yet, some of our residents do need assistance."

Justice said the Volunteers Organized and Active in Disasters, known as VOAD, is reaching out to the victims who suffered storm damage.

Victims like Karen Asselin.

"Picking up the pieces," said Asselin, of the activity that has filled her life since her home was destroyed. "Trying to salvage what we can salvage, because we lost our home and both vehicles."

Asselin said she can't believe the governor's decision.

"With the federal government saying, 'Oh, we're not going to help you,' it's like, 'What do you mean?'" she said.

Chief Justice said VOAD activated on Friday and began contacting victims, as soon as the EOC received word Vero Beach would not receive aid.

"This was an isolated case as far as county-wide destruction goes," he said, of the magnitude of the damage.

To Asselin, it's not isolated, it's her whole world, a world she said needed help.

"Three weeks ago when it happened, that's when we needed the tarps," she explained. "Not now. I drive by every day. I have to see my home."

Asselin said she and her husband, Roger, were fortunate to have friends who are letting them stay in their house, but she misses living in her unit. "This was our home, you know? And until you live this, you have no idea," she said, with tears in her eyes.

If you or someone you know suffered tornado damage in Vero Beach, the number for Indian River County Emergency Services is (772) 567-2154.

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