Marion County gains federal disaster declaration

Published: Mar. 24, 2016 at 8:15 PM CDT
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MARION CO, TX (KSLA) - Marion County, Texas, now has been declared as a federal disaster area for individual assistance.

Floodwaters flushed many residents of several Northeast Texas counties out of their homes. Flood survivors wanting federal assistance had become frustrated that their area has not been declared a federal disaster.

A camp of RV's on Smith Road in Jefferson, Texas, is a refuge for several flood survivors who live along Big Cypress Bayou.

Mesha Capps knows the flood survivors, who are her father's neighbors.

"This is their home right now, this is where they are living," said Capps.

The RVs have no running water, and the flood survivors are using a Port-A-Potty they fished out of the bayou.

"If you look around, they don't have anywhere to go," said Capps.

Now that everything is dried out, Capps is trying to get the community help. "Feels like I've been going around in circles, not getting anywhere."

Until the area received the federal disaster declaration, members of the community felt like they were at a standstill.

"You just don't know what to do, you are at wits' end," said Harold Mackey, who is cleaning out his house but needs to know if federal aid is available to plan for the future. "Our biggest thing is getting information from FEMA to see what they are going to do so we'll know what we are going to do."

Marion County Sheriff David McKnight said FEMA assessors have been to the county and had been in a "holding pattern" as to whether a declaration would happen.

Capps was frustrated with the delay.  "They can't help until it has been declared, I don't understand why it has taken so long for it to be declared."

Marion County leaders have said they will get information about the federal disaster declaration out to residents by posting information at their service centers, on social media and through both print and broadcast media.

Marion County also has activated an Emergency Operations Center as an information source pertaining to flood survivors in the Big Cypress River and Caddo Lake areas. The center's hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Its telephone number is (903) 665-2283. That number is dedicated to the center and should not be used for other emergencies.

In addition, Dumpsters are available as of March 25 for disposal of flood-related debris including construction materials, furniture and other damaged household items. Appliances also are accepted.

The Dumpsters are off FM 134 east of Jefferson, Texas, on Cypress Cemetery Road. They are open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Help unloading is available.

Check out the Marion County sheriff’s office Facebook page for more information.

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