The lawsuit cites cases where poorly constructed or maintained homes were deemed ineligible because the storm damage was blamed on their pre-existing condition.
FEMA spokeswoman Ashley Small said the agency would not comment on pending litigation.
FEMA home inspection guidelines call for a determination of whether the home is "safe, sanitary and functional." If it does not meet that, money can be awarded to raise it to that condition if insurance will not.
The residents suing FEMA, most of whom suffered roof damage, were denied assistance due to what FEMA called "insufficient damage," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit charges that FEMA has not shown clear standards for making its decisions. It quotes an unnamed FEMA official explaining the high rate of denials as saying, "A lot of the homes built were built from second-hand materials. So the damage was, in most cases, caused from the faulty building of the house and not the storm."
FEMA passed over homes of the desperately poor where leaky roofs led to widespread mold and health problems, according to the lawsuit.
In one case, Francisca Adame, 74, has been fighting mold and leaks at her home in Edcouch since Dolly damaged her roof. Mold now grows on her ceiling and walls, the lawsuit said. A FEMA inspector visited her home, but did not go on the roof to inspect it. Four days later, Adame received a letter from FEMA denying assistance for insufficient damage. Adame cannot afford to make the repairs, the lawsuit said.
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