Skip to comments.Broken Bible Belt: Homes In Ruins From Tornadoes Denied Aid By FEMA For ‘Insufficient Damage’
Posted on 06/13/2011 7:38:13 AM PDT by TSgt
Jefferson County resident Jonathan Stewart said he laughed in shock after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) claimed the house his family lost in the deadly April 27 twister was not unsafe to live in.
Displaced families in tornado-ravaged Alabama are outraged after being denied federal aide to rebuild their flattened homes due to insufficient damage.
The devastating reality is the house is now a concrete slab surrounded by rubble.
Mr Stewart told AL.com a FEMA inspector saw first-hand the Pleasant Grove residence he shared with his wife, Lisa, and their two children was ripped from the ground. Three days after the visit, however, he received a letter reading: Based on your FEMA inspection, we have determined that the disaster has not caused your home to be unsafe to live in.
Although the disaster may have caused some minor damage it is reasonable to expect you or your landlord to make these repairs. At this time you are not eligible for FEMA housing assistance.
Mr Stewart told the website: Lisa and I looked at the letter and laughed. While he has since found out his insurance coverage will replace his house, the family is not alone.
Lashunta Tabbs home 15 miles away in North Smithfield Manor was stripped of its siding, and more than half of her roof blew off with tornado-force winds.
She too, received a letter claiming there was insufficient damage the number one reason in Alabama the people are determined ineligible for FEMA grants, worth up to $30,200.
It is not yet known how many Alabama tornado victims received the letter.
FEMA deputy branch director for individual assistance Lynda Lowe said finding of insifficient damage are often correct, and many of those who filed for assistance did not have damage.
FEMA officials encourage whose who believe they were wrongly declared ineligible to file for an appeal through local disaster recovery centres.
Spokesman Renee Bafalis said: If you have a question why you received a determination of ineligibility, go in there and let them look it up and help you file an appeal.
A report issued on Wednesday, however, revealed few disaster victims follow through.
It showed less than one percent of the 25,081 applicants initially declared ineligible for any reason had appealed, leaving the potential for millions of dollars in federal aide to go unclaimed.
An applicant has 60 days from the date of the determination letter to appeal.
It was not known at press time how many applicants were declared ineligible in Alabama due to insufficient damage. However, similar findings have occurred after nearly every recent disaster.
THE BUREAUCRACY BEHIND APPLYING FOR FEMA AIDE:
When a disaster victim applies for a FEMA grant, an inspector is dispatched to the applicants property.
Inspectors carry laptops connected to a database called NEMIS (National Emergency Management Information System), which guides them through measuring rooms and assessing damage.
Items marked for repair or replacement are priced depending on the geographic region.
Letters are issued based on the computerised report, telling an applicant whether he qualifies for FEMA assistance.
An applicant has 60 days from the date of the determination letter to appeal.
What qualifies as insufficient damage remains unclear.
A pending lawsuit accusing FEMA of improperly denying thousands of farm workers in Texas money to repair their homes after Hurricane Dolly struck in 2008 based on the insufficient damage finding claims that FEMA used a concept called deferred maintenance to back the rejections.
Deferred maintenance is not referenced in any regulation, Jerry Wesevich, an attorney with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid who represents the plaintiffs, told AL.com.
Mr Wesevich described deferred maintenance as a shorthand term that FEMA uses when it determines somehow that a condition of a home prior to the disaster caused the damage after the storm.
An Alabama inspectors coordinator for FEMA said deferred maintenance is no longer used in assessing damage, although there is a place for inspectors to note pre-existing conditions.
Can we just defund FEMA already? Why does this agency even exist in the first place? Aside from this bungling, as well as its bungling in Katrina and just about every other natural disaster, I have to ask, why is this a federal concern anyway?
Yep....must be the lack of a tan.....
I hate to don the tinfoil, but I really, really wonder if this isn’t some backhanded way to say “you didn’t vote for me so screw you” by Obama.
Our taxpayer dollars at work. Whoever is sending out these grossly inaccurate letters should be fired.
Our Constitution doesn’t provide for FEMA, so arguing about this family’s experience is pointless, other than to serve as a springboard for eliminating FEMA.
Rewarding friends and punishing enemies.
“Lynda Lowe said finding of insifficient damage are often correct.” Hey sometimes we get it right! A Lowe standard of performance is good enough for government work.
That and “we won”.
Look at what they do, not what they say.
Funny, stuff like this is why I carry homeowners insurance. My policy will actually pay for alternative living space should the house become unlivable.
Why are we expecting taxpayers to pick up the cost?
The “Man” is trying to keep us down.
and his arm isn’t “sufficiently injured” to get ObamaCare.
Heard Ron Paul on a cable news show this morning talking about FEMA and how it is unconstitutional. I am inclined to agree with him. Should be left to the states.
President Obama doesn’t care about White People!
And when the country lies in ruins just like that, Obama will still be claiming it’s not yet damaged enough.
When people find out that the government is screwing them they figure there’s no point in fighting it because the government can do what it darn well pleases. That is the behavior of a people who knows they are living under lawlessness. As long as we refuse to fight back that’s what we will have, and it will only get more severe.
I dunno...all it needs is a little paint, some tidying...and walls & roof!
The same should apply across the board, then.
Buy insurance or take your lumps.
It looks like these people could use a community organizer! /s
He used up all the FEMA money passing out debit cards for cathouses, five star hotel rooms and big screen teeveees after Katrina. < / sarcasm >
Obama’s Revenge.............Unless you’re one of ‘Holder’s people’....................
I believe FEMA should be eliminated. But while it exists, it ought to exist for everyone equally - including bitter, gun-clinging crackers!
Surely you’re not just coming to this revelation.
Actually, it’s a lot more than just “doesn’t care about”,
Constitutional or not, it exists and should be doing the job it is funded for, not being a political payback agency....................
The Obama Administration is using its power to reward its friends and punish its enemies. Opponents of the Obama Administration beware.
Obama is both bumbling and arrogant.
Was just having this same conversation with a friend.
When you use the words, “typical white people” you’re positively a racist.
The man hates Caucasians.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P36x8rTb3jI - “If I help him, he’s going to help me.” Conversely, “If I don’t help him, he’s not going to help me.”
In a case like this where you have lost everything, even a higher insurance policy that covers rebuilding costs plus contents won't pay for everything - I understand helping these folks out and am curious how FEMA decides who/where to pay. This sure sounds like they are choosing friendly areas of the country to "reward"
I'm sure this will get wide play all over the MSM. [not]
Agreed there. IMHO the only time FEMA should step in is where insurance refuses to pay or in large-scale flooding events, in areas where people don’t have flood insurance, and that could even be done at a state level.
Remember the attacks on FEMA and the Bush Administration after Katrina? Anyone know how many billions of dollars were spent on FEMA relief to New Orleans?
I don’t know why anyone trusts this Administration.
Carry insurance, and know the the Fedgov will not help you.
I was just re-pharasing the Comment of Kanye.....And Don’t call me Shirley! LOL
FEMA has been on close watch since the 2004 hurricanes that devastated Florida and Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf in 2005, when the General Accounting office accused it of squandering millions of dollars awarding emergency grants to unqualified home owners.
Claire B. Rubin, a disaster researcher and consultant in the Washington, D.C., area, explained: 'In Katrina they lost so much money because they were not careful about payout," Rubin said. The GAO hit them hard.'
Funny how certain trigger issues can turn a flag-waving, Constitution-hugging FReeper into an instant government-dependent skittle moocher.
The question is, does the Constitution allow the Federal government to provide tax dollars for disaster relief?
As uncompassionate as this sounds, it would be better for folks to go about this the way our great grandparents did: good churches and good neighbors jumping in to help.
“They need to call the New Oreleans police. They know how to help...themselves...”
Yes that is the Democrat way,Loot and steal.
God needs to do us all a favor and send an F5 tornado barreling through FEMA until it no longer exists.
This is a standard Government tactic across the board - FEMA, SS Disability, etc etc.... Deny the first claim no matter what to AVOID PAYING OUT MONEY as long as possible.
And if this had happened during the Bush admin???
The story says that this family later discovered their insurance covered them (how could they not have known that?)...so that is good.
I believe Jefferson County, where this family is from, voted strongly for O...while neighboring Shelby County was one of the most lop-sided in the country towards McCain.
A note about tornado damage and home insurance. A few years ago, a Tornado went theough Chapman, Kansas...and went on to destroy around 20 homes in Manhattan, KS. The homes in Manhattan were very new, had loans on them, and were insured. As far as I can tell, all but one has been rebuilt.
Chapman, on the other hand, had older homes. People were living in homes owned for multiple generations in their family...paid for...and nobody had them insured. Their re-building has been a much longer process...Extreme Makeover even stopped by to shed some tears and build a house.
Why no insurance? Why did this family in Alabama immediately look to FEMA, instead of their insurance company? We are gradually being conditioned to look to the federal government for help and protection, in all aspects of our lives.
Good point. As long as there was an Allocation (after taking it from our Tax dollars) of over $10 Billion for this Agency in 2010, the money should go where it is intended.
The 2010 FEMA Budget:
Otherwise - nix the Agency and hand this back to the States.
After the 1994 Northridge quake, the State Farm inspector carried something similar...he measured his way through the place during his inspection, and by the time we left he had the actual dollar figure on his estimated damage and repair costs.
We were dumbfounded, because the number was tens of thousands of dollars more than we would have estimated on our own.
The program would estimate everything from scaffolding for painting to carpeting in rooms where there had been broken glass to food spoiled during the power outages.
Absolutley right! Why would any sane homeowner not have their home insured? How the heck do they fail to insure under a requirement from mortgage lender to carry insurance?
Hopefully this will teach the disaster victims to vote for the democrats in the next election.
Just not black enough?
Yes, and wait until they apply the same justification for denying benefits to healthcare.
Well I for one am really glad that they're 'often' correct. How often I wonder. Is it more than 1/2 the time? Is it less than 1/2 the time?
And the copy editor who passed this article apparently isn't familiar with Spell Check.