Houstonians fight FEMA after devastating storm

Houstonians fight FEMA after devastating storm

Many Houston residents are having difficulty applying for federal assistance through FEMA following last month’s severe storms.

Weeks after a derecho with wind gusts topping 100 miles per hour hit Houston and neighboring areas, residents like Sharon Huston are still grappling with the aftermath and a difficult federal aid process.

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Huston encountered obstacles with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as he attempted to appeal his initial aid decision. Despite multiple phone calls with various representatives, Huston felt he was receiving inconsistent answers and inadequate advice.

“If you talk to three or four people, you get three or four different answers, and no one can solve your problem or even point you in the right direction,” expressed frustration.

After the storm, Huston lost not only her walker, dentures and car, but also the special glasses needed for her rare eye disease, a cost not covered by her insurance. Although the damage to his home was repaired, the $300 in FEMA assistance was not enough to cover his expenses, forcing him to consider appealing an appeal.

“You have to call back multiple times to get multiple different answers. No one answers the same question the same way,” she said, noting the complexity of FEMA’s appeals process.

Huston’s financial pressure increases as she covers costs out of pocket, a significant challenge on a fixed income.

“They make it very difficult to even appeal a situation, because now you have to pay out of pocket. If you’re on a fixed income, where do you get that? Where can you get those funds from?” asked Huston.

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FOX 26 asked FEMA if there was a specific reason a resident could be denied assistance. In a statement, they responded:

“Every applicant’s situation is different. There are several reasons why they may not be approved. Insurance Settlement – FEMA requires a copy of the insurance settlement or denial letter. Proof of occupancy – FEMA requires documentation that proves the home is their primary residence, such as utility bills, pay stubs, a driver’s license, or a state-issued ID card. other reasons why FEMA determined the application was not eligible. If they have questions or need additional information on next steps, they should visit a local Center. Disaster Recovery (DRC) or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.

FOX 26 asked FEMA what would allow someone to be approved or denied, and they said these general conditions must be met for an applicant to be eligible to receive aid:

Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified non-citizen.

  • FEMA must be able to verify the identity of the applicant.
  • The applicant’s insurance, or other forms of disaster assistance received, cannot meet their needs caused by the disaster.
  • The applicant’s necessary expenses and serious needs are directly caused by a declared disaster.

When asked how long the appeal process takes, FEMA responded:

“This process varies from person to person. If an applicant does not agree with the amount or type of aid they are receiving from FEMA, they simply submit an appeal with supporting documentation in support of their request They can also complete the appeal request letter that is included with their determination letter. Keep in mind that a “Not Approved” letter from FEMA does not necessarily mean that the letter is approved. process is complete. Applicants have the right to appeal and should call our FEMA hotline number or visit the nearest DRC (Disaster Recovery Center) location for one of our FEMA agents to assist them. . We are here to help you.

To find the nearest FEMA disaster recovery center, click here.