Helicopters soar across disaster areas with assessment crews

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COLUMBIA - Helicopters took of from the Columbia Jet Center on Wednesday to start assessing storm and flooding damage from the past two weeks.

The assessment crews are going to be starting with seven counties, including Boone, Howard, Callaway, and Cheriton.

Mike Cappannari, the external affairs director a FEMA's regional office said this is just the first step to view the damage in inaccessible communities. 

"Helicopters really allow us the best opportunity to look at those damages, to really validate what the impacts are," he said. "Where there were damages due to tornados, there are teams that are going to be doing on-the-ground damage assessments."

Cappannari said the assessments will continue through the week and crews are working as fast as they can to help Gov. Mike Parson determine if there is need for additional federal assistance. 

There are two types of preliminary assessments being done; individual and public.

According to FEMA, IA is taking priority in communities largely impacted by flooding.

SEMA Public Assistance Coordinator David Burgan spent his day in the helicopters and said there is still a lot of water to be seen.

"Today, for individual assistance, we're looking at things like residences that have been damaged or impacted, some businesses for Small Business Association," Burgan said.

The assessments are conducted by joint teams of representatives from FEMA, local agencies, Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, and Small Business Association.

Cappannari said its important for disaster victims who need assistance to call 2-1-1. 

The agencies are looking at businesses and/or individuals being affected in the following counties. Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Barry, Barton, Boone, Buchanan, Callaway, Carroll, Caldwell, Camden, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Cole, Cooper, Dade, Dallas, Douglas, Dunklin, Gasconade, Genrtry, Green, Grundy, Hickory, Holt, Howard, Jackson, Jasper, Knox, Laclede, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Macon, Marion, Mercer, Miller, Monroe, New Madrid, Nodaway, Osage, Ozark, Pike, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ralls, St. Charles, St. Clair, Schuler, Scotland, Shannon, Shelby, Stoddard, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Texas, Webster and Wright Counties.

People with damage elsewhere need to be reporting it so it can be added to the agencies' list of counties to visit.