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What it takes to get federal aid in storm damaged areas of Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Looking at storm damage across Shelby County, it's easy to say we should be declared a disaster area.

But how much is enough for the Federal Government to step in and help?

"The tree smashed all three cars and would have knocked our car port down," said Cheryl Henderson of Frayser.

Henderson lost three vehicles when her neighbor's massive tree was snatched out of the ground and landed on part of her garage.

"The ceiling in the den of my home has fallen partially," she said.

While distressed homeowners pick through what's left, the government will be looking at the numbers.

Around 100 homes must have catastrophic damage before federal funds kick in and the owners must have no insurance.

"We don't have insurance. We just gonna have to pay out of our pocket," Henderson said.

So what is considered catastrophic and who actually decides?

While Shelby County assists with the federal declaration request, the City of Memphis sends out inspectors to assess damage.

Once complete, the findings will be sent to state and federal officials.

Mark Woods thinks the tree now lodged in the side of his house is a disaster.

"I think it is cause it is not just here, I got other holes in the roof, smaller ones. Uhhh. I don't know what to tell you. It's gonna be leaking through. I can't cover all that up, it's too much."

But he has insurance.

The individual federal assistance is for those who don't.

The city said you must call 311 or Emergency Management to get your home inspected for catastrophic damage.

A team will come out and give their assessment.

So while we saw many homes that appear unlivable, it's what inspectors see that really counts.

The city said inspectors have been meeting about the storm and will begin assessing damage as calls come in.