By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Navy has begun issuing emergency relief checks to residents forced from their homes after a Navy fighter jet crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach, Va., on Friday, the Navy announced Monday.
Initial payments begin at $2,300 for an individual to help pay for housing, meals and clothing, the Navy said in a statement.
City officials in Virginia Beach said over the weekend that at least 63 people were left temporarily homeless by the crash, which slightly injured seven people, including two pilots who parachuted to safety just before the F/A-18D Hornet plunged to the ground after taking off on a training mission.
“We are committed to doing the right thing to address the needs of these families, who through no fault of their own have endured an incredible hardship,”’ said Rear Adm. Tim Alexander, commander of the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic region.
A call center has been established for residents displaced by the crash, the Navy said. Legal representatives from the Navy were at the apartment complex Monday to answer questions about documentation and to help residents fill out claim forms.
Navy officials began meeting with residents of the complex at a nearby hotel on Saturday. About 40 apartments were destroyed or badly damaged. Some residents forced from their homes are living with friends or family, while others have gone to a shelter established by the Red Cross at a nearby elementary school.
The Navy said the crash was caused by a “catastrophic mechanical malfunction.” A military investigation is under way.