Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

December 13, 2013

Tough road to recovery

Area business owners affected by tornadoes disappointed by FEMA rejection

Regardless of any of the news Linda White and Toni Weideman received in the month since their business, Mid-Central Trophy, was demolished by a tornado on Nov. 17, Thursday was a happy day.

The co-owners moved their things into a new location at 4015 Webster St. less than a month after their old location of 16 years on Arnold Court suffered major damage, along with a number of other businesses in the plaza.

It hasn’t been an easy road back. Mid-Central Trophy has been producing about 50 percent of its normal output of trophies and plaques as their main source of revenue, a massive engraver, was under repair. They borrowed Internet access from their business neighbors and received help from other trophy and engraving business associates in maintaining their client base while they awaited word on what would be covered by insurance. But White and Weideman, like many Kokomo business owners, are thankful for the help they’ve received from their neighbors in the wake of the tornadoes.

“Kokomo Strong!” White said while moving materials into the new business.

“Yes we are!” Weideman answered immediately.

Staying strong became a little more difficult Wednesday for local business and home owners when the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Indiana’s request for a major disaster declaration in Howard County.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security now has 30 days to submit its appeal in hopes of providing grants and low-interest loans for citizens and businesses in Howard County. In the meantime, White said, financial uncertainty remains, even as the business plans to reopen at its new location.

“When I think about the uncertainty of knowing what will be covered and what the bottom line will be with the insurance, it causes a lot of anxiety,” she said.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security Senior Public Information Officer John Erickson said the process of requesting FEMA funding began Dec. 4. IDHS performed an assessment using a list of damage classification criteria for homes and businesses provided by FEMA. Homes and businesses hit by the tornadoes were classified as destroyed, major damage, minor damage and affected.

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