Richard and Barbara Philby evacuated their Allenton home before Hurricane Ivan. Looking at photos of their waterfront house is reminder enough of the strength of a tornado. Richard says they will always evacuate after this storm.
"We evacuated, thank God, otherwise we'd be dead. From this picture you can see there's not even a two by four standing. The plates of the house on the foundation were totally torn off."
In a matter of minutes, the Philby's lost their dream home, two cars, a boat and a sense of security. They went to the Parker FEMA Disaster Recovery Center for assistance and Barbara says they had money in the bank the very next day.
"There was not one person we couldn't talk to. I mean, I was shocked myself because I never asked for anything myself, and when we went in there they made us so comfortable and 'we want to help you.'"
But not everyone qualifies for assistance. To receive money for housing needs you need to have filed for insurance benefits and know the damage is not covered, or if you have expenses not covered because of the disaster.
However, as Earl Armstrong with FEMA points out the DRCs have several agencies with assistance to offer, as well.
"And then once your insurance company has done what they're going to do, call FEMA again and then we'll see if you had any damages that weren't covered by your insurance, we may be able to help you."
Richard Philby can appreciate FEMA's help, especially when he looks back at what was once a home.
"It's just a total disaster, total loss, but we're alive.
There is a DRC in Panama City Beach off Beach Drive at the Knology Building and another at Parker City Hall off Business 98. When you do head to a Disaster Recovery Center, make sure you have an address and phone number where you can be reached, your Social Security number, information about the damage and the affected insurance information and family gross income, but before you go call FEMA to register for assistance at 1-800-621-FEMA.