Applying for FEMA aid: The process and the problems

A FEMA representative sat down with 3News Tuesday to show us how easy it is to apply for assistance from the government help agency; but viewers generally have not been happy with the process.

A FEMA representative sat down with 3News Tuesday to show us how easy it is to apply for assistance from the government help agency; but viewers generally have not been happy with the process.

We started by asking viewers if they have had any problems requesting aid from FEMA, and received almost a couple hundred mostly dissatisfied responses via Facebook.

Facebook user Sierra said she has to wait for a determination, and that her mother was denied aid because of a wrong date. Mike posted that his mother had applied but they are still waiting for word back. Susana posted that lodging has been horrible for those having to relocate to Corpus Christi, saying either FEMA vouchers have not been accepted or hotels are full until October.

3News asked FEMA Spokesman William Lindsey if people can get emergency help right away.

"A lot of folks think, 'I need cash now and there's a commercial about that,'" Lindsey said. "They need cash now, but we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we do have our checks and balances in place."

Lindsey walked 3News through the process of going to www.FEMA.gov and clicking the link to www.disasterassistance.gov. He then showed us how to register and enter your information online, at which time you will be supplied a special PIN number you will need to keep with you.

Lindsey said registering will start the ball rolling on determining how much aid you may be eligible for. The first thing that happens is a packet will be sent to you that needs to be filled out.

"After you register, actually, there's a contractor who will come and look at your home to see what the damages are," Lindsey said. "Of course, you contact your insurance agency as well. Then once you do that, then the ball starts rolling."

Lindsey said there are several local agencies that may be able to provide more immediate help.

"Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities," Lindsey said. "We have so many volunteer agencies that come into play with this and we're thankful for that. We would not be able to render this program without our volunteer agencies."

One Facebook user responding to our question about applying for FEMA aid said her father-in-law was told he would hear something in seven-10 days. Another said her husband's grandmother was denied even though her house received major damage. Another said she tried to get help by phone, but was put on hold for three hours and eventually disconnected while speaking to a representative.

Lindsey said it is important to register now with FEMA and keep that pin number in a safe place.

© 2017 KIII-TV


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