Nixon Presses Obama for FEMA Funds After Tornado

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LEBANON - Governor Jay Nixon requested a federal major disaster declaration for Missouri Wednesday, a week after deadly tornados ripped through several southern towns in the state and caused substantial structural damage.

Concurrently with the governor's request for FEMA funds, Laclede County Emergency Management issued a final report of storm damage in its county.  In Laclede County alone, which includes Lebanon, the report calculated 26 businesses and almost 100 homes sustained costly damage in the storm.  Laclede County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Ayres said the town has not yet assessed the exact cost of these damages.

Although the county declined to accept funds from Nixon's State of Emergency address immediately following the storm, Ayres said the town could benefit from federal funds--residents now need monetary resources from the federal government.

"The families and the businesses do need that assistance," Ayres said.  "A lot of these homes are majorly damaged. We have a lot of underinsured or uninsured homes that are going to have a hard time recovering from this storm."

James and Cynthia Miller did not have insurance on their ravaged Lebanon mobile home, and their family is just one of those that anxiously is awaiting federal funds.  The couple, their two children (ages 14 and 10) and three dogs currently reside at a town motel, until James Miller's army brigade pays for them to move to a new duplex as soon as this week.  Since James and Cynthia Miller are unemployed, the couple is paying hotel and grocery fees out of pocket and living in quarters that are taking a toll on their children. 

"Every once in a while," James Miller said, "You can kind of see it's wearing on [my daughter] Alexis...being at this hotel for the past week."

But, since moving into the confined living arrangement, the family has reflected on the terrifying memory of what happened to them.

"It was horrifying," Cynthia Miller said. "The last thing that came out of my mouth to my husband and my kids was, 'We're all going to die.'"

An air-conditioning vent prevented the trailer from toppling over, and they survived.  But, virtually all of their property and the functionality of their mobile home succumbed to the tornado's powerful winds.  The family says it considers itself lucky.

James Miller said, "I try and maintain a positive attitude, and as long as I'm positive, that kind of wears off on the kids and the wife, and you know we'll learn from it and move in a new direction."

The Millers wished to express special thanks to the American Red Cross, Laclede County Emergency Management, family, neighbors and complete strangers for their generosity.