Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Brian Whitesell
Lynchburg, VA- "We are here to help you as much as we can." That's what FEMA told Lynchburg city officials Friday.
It was the first face-to-face meeting with the city, FEMA and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management since the derecho devastated Central Virginia.
In order for Lynchburg to get the money to help clean up, FEMA is taking a look at the damage and figuring out how much federal aid, if any, this area will get. One coordinator says Lynchburg has the worst damage he's seen so far.
The June windstorm swooped down on Central Virginia in a flash. Now, Lynchburg city leaders are asking FEMA for whatever help the federal administration can give.
"We have fairly, maybe about an hour, to tell you our story," said Kimball Payne, the Lynchburg city manager.
One by one, the Hill City's top officials shared with FEMA their experience of the last 15 days, starting with the 911 center.
"Immediately, we started getting inundated with hazard calls," said Deputy Director Melissa Foster at Lynchburg emergency communications.
"For the first hours, our workload was up well over 200%," said Chief Parks Snead with the Lynchburg Police Department.
"We finally got back power in all our stations in about a week," said Chief Brad Ferguson, Lynchburg Fire Department.
That's just a sample of the stories FEMA heard and noted for the record book. It was both a fact-gathering mission and listening tour for the feds. And Lynchburg drove their message home, showing FEMA a short video of the destruction.
Some unprecedented statistics came from AEP. Although FEMA will not give AEP federal dollars, the power company is on-hand going to bat for Lynchburg.
"The community really stepped up and helped AEP, Appalachian Power crews, and this is part of the way we can help the community to try and recover some of the cost of this storm," said Larry Jackson, AEP.
The city estimates the price tag is in the millions.
Lynchburg, VA - There's still a lot of debris around. If you've hired a private contractor to haul off fallen trees in your yard. Lynchburg Public Works asks that the contractor to take the debris to the landfill. It will not cost you or the contractor a dime and will be a big up to city crews.