FEMA says important deadline approaching for flood victims

FEMA says important deadline approaching for flood victims

HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - FEMA is reminding flood victims that the deadline for registering for assistance related to the August flooding is fast approaching.

"The deadline to register is October 13 and we've had 146,000-plus individuals register for federal assistance," said FEMA External Affairs Specialist Steven Solomon.

But flood victims who have registered said they are still waiting to hear back from FEMA.

"I need help around here to help me get all of this stuff out of here," said Bobbie George, a widow who has mold growing in her flood-damaged home in Independence.

She moved to the small town after losing her home to flooding 11 years ago during Hurricane Katrina. There is a gaping hole in her roof and ceiling, as well. Plastic bins catch water when it rains. George said she had a small flood policy when the flooding happened last month, but not enough coverage to pay for all of the damage her home sustained. Now, her carport is filled with clothes and other items she has tried to salvage.

"I have some comforters, blankets," said George.

FEMA said it is working hard to process applications for assistance.

"Working to do everything we can to ensure eligible survivors get the federal assistance they're entitled to," said Solomon.

He said once flood victims sign up, an inspection typically follows. H said they have made great progress.

"We've completed 99.3 percent of those inspections. We have nearly 100 inspectors still out in the field," Solomon said.

But the agency has taken a lot of criticism from flood victims, as well as members of Congress over the pace of getting manufactured housing units to the people who need them. They are not the same as the tiny, travel-type trailers doled out in the New Orleans area after Katrina.

"As a last option, nothing else is working, and the individual is eligible, we bring in what we call a manufactured housing unit. So these are not trailers like you see pulled by car, these are like single-wide homes with rooms and doors and windows," said Solomon.

He said FEMA is assisting people who have been forced to take shelter in hotels and motels.

George said she would welcome a FEMA trailer while repairs are made to her home. Solomon could not say how many flood victims have received the manufactured housing so far.

"I don't have numbers for that," said Solomon.

Solomon urges flood victims to sign up with FEMA if they have not already, and he also warned against scam artists.  He said all FEMA workers have identification, and victims should ask to see it before providing any information.

He also warned against people showing up stating that they are third-party contractors who can help speed up the assistance process.

"There are also folks who pretend that they can facilitate the process between the survivor and FEMA for a fee, that's an out-and-out scam. No one can make the process go any quicker, or any better," Solomon said.

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