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FEMA/SBA Help Couple Move Away From River

Release date: 
January 17, 2008
Release Number: 

LACEY, Wash. -- After they finally finished their landscaping this summer, Bret and Melinda Bryan of Chehalis planned for this winter to be their first without mud. Mother Nature obviously had other ideas. Because of the flood, they?re having to move their house, and this has created more mud than they have ever seen.

The Bryans? house used to stand 80 feet back from the Chehalis River. During the December flood, the river bank in front of their house was washed away, undercutting most of their deck and coming up to the very edge of their house. They lost a half-mile strip 80 feet wide.

Melinda shakes her head as she looks at their non-existent front yard, with its view of the river and the woods beyond. A steel railroad trestle clings to the bank on the opposite shore. ?That bridge used to be a quarter mile upstream,? comments Bret.

The garage and a wing with bedrooms have already been moved back from the river?s edge to the pasture behind the house. Today, the main section of the house stands on I-beams, ready to be moved out of harm?s way. By the end of this week, the house should be moved. ?Seeing your house lifted up and moved is a strange experience,? Melinda confesses. ?But at least we still have a house to move.?

At first, the Bryans didn?t know what to do. ?You don?t think you?ll be as overwhelmed as you are,? says Melinda. So they called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and applied for state and federal disaster assistance.

?They were great,? says Melinda. ?They were so patient with us. Do you have this? Oh, no, we?d say, then set the phone down and go get it. They were so calming and reassuring. It was one less thing to be overwhelmed by.?

The inspector came on Sunday, looked at everything and talked with the Bryans. Funds were in their account by Thursday. Now they?re awaiting word from the Small Business Administration (SBA) about their low-interest loan application. Already, the SBA has called them to explain the different programs.

Meanwhile, Melinda and Bret are living in a travel trailer on their property, with various pieces of furniture and appliances stored in the outbuildings. Through it all, they have maintained their sense of humor.

Everyone affected by the December flooding who lives in one of the counties designated for Individual Assistance (IA) is urged to register with FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or online at The TTY number is 1-800-462-7585. The following counties have been designated for IA: Clallam, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Snohomish, Thurston and Wahkiakum.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

SBA is the federal government?s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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