FEMA denies aid to thousands

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September 24, 2008 5:09:11 PM PDT
In the days after Hurricane Ike hit, thousands of people applied for assistance through FEMA. Some have been given the help they need, but a lot more have been told they do not qualify. It's a frustrating situation for a lot of people. ROAD TO RECOVERY: Breaking news on Ike | School closings | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim | Latest power numbers

FEMA says it's already given out some $30 million in aid following Hurricane Ike. But a lot of people we talked to say they are yet to see a penny.

After Hurricane Ike, Earline Young's home is such a mess that neither she nor her 12-year-old granddaughter dare stay there. But, even with all that damage, Young was still denied FEMA aid.

"I mean, you just lost everything," Young said. "I'm not understanding why I was rejected."

FEMA says since Hurricane Ike, they have received more than 589,000 applications for aid here in Texas. While 250,000 applications are still pending, just under 11,400 have been approved. An overwhelming 154,000, have been denied.

"That's disturbing," said Kathy Guillory with Congressman Nick Lampson's office.

Guillory toured The Landings condos in El Lago where 80% of the residents here have been denied FEMA aid. Residents Kristen and Nick Stratos say they were turned down because the inspector considered the property livable, even though the city ruled it non-livable.

Kristen asked, "Where are we going to live? We can't live here, and we can't live with family for months or maybe even years."

FEMA says there are numerous reasons a person may have been denied:

  • No proper ID
  • Insurance had not yet been settled
  • Help is only available for primary residences
  • FEMA only allows one claim per household
Whatever the reason, officials say the decision is not always permanent.

"You can always appeal the decision," said FEMA spokesperson John Patterson.

FEMA says anyone denied should visit a disaster recovery center, like the one at Ellington Field to challenge the decision. For some it's easier said than done.

"Ii thought possibly they would have learned from Katrina," The Landings HOA President David Marks said. "Obviously not."

If you have questions about FEMA aid, you can call their hotline at 1-800-621-FEMA or visit their website, FEMA.gov.

Congressman Lampson's office is reviewing the current way FEMA approves aid and is looking at whether laws need to be changed so more people can get the help they need.

Keep your family safe this hurricane season. Check our complete tropical weather preparation guide


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