FEMA to set up Disaster Recovery Center at Prime Outlets-Lebanon

By KALYN SHELLYThe Wilson PostA local FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is set to open at Prime Outlets-Lebanon shopping center "soon," according to John Jewell, director of the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency."They are clearly overwhelmed and it's just taking time," he said. Jewell said the government damage estimate is a little more than $2 million in Wilson County and they are still waiting on the other estimates. He said there were more than 500 structures in the county with reported water damage. In the meantime, the Flood Relief Store remains open at Prime Outlets-Lebanon as flood victims from Wilson County and beyond come to get the items needed to fulfill their "urgent" needs, according to Sandy Palmer, volunteer and also owner of White Gloves Studio in Lebanon. "Mason Alkire and Foley Thomas have done a wonderful job starting and organizing the store with the help of Mayor Philip Craighead, United Way and the American Red Cross," Palmer said. "They are tireless and here every day doing everything they can to help these people."She said Wilson Bank & Trust and SunTrust Bank in Lebanon have been sending employees to the store daily to offer the help needed to keep the store staffed.Palmer said hearing the stories flood victims have to tell is "heartbreaking." She said one man who had "substantial" damage to his home came in early Thursday with what he "thought was a broken thumb" and it turned out to have been an infection from the bacteria he had gotten while cleaning up his house. "We urge people to always wear gloves when cleaning out their homes and we are working on getting more of those here to offer our customers," she added. She said there are many requests that they are "still trying to help with." She said the biggest need of many of the victims is for transportation for children to and from school and for parents to and from work. "The buses are not coming to the hotels and shelters to pick these kids up and many of the families lost their vehicles and have no way of getting their children to school," Palmer said. "Our hearts go out to these people. We want to help them so that they can help themselves."Staff Writer Kalyn Shelly may be contacted at kalyn@wilsonpost.com.