FEMA offers little help to Lakeland family whose home was crushed during Irma

What to do when FEMA help falls short

LAKELAND, Fla. - Irma's winds sent the large oak crashing into the children's bedrooms. The trunk and limbs destroyed half the house. Two bedrooms and a bathroom left uninhabitable and forced this family to apply for FEMA aid. A month later an inspector showed up.

Jessica and Jeremy own the home outright but don't have insurance. So far FEMA’s offered them a total of $1,000 to make repairs.

FEMA responded to our questions in an email saying they pay out enough aid to return the home into a safe and secure place to live. Clearly the program did not work for this family.

In a statement FEMA said, "assistance is not the same as insurance. It provides the basic needs for a home to be habitable."

But in this case $1,000 won't touch what's needed to begin repairs much less restore the rooms to livable.

We contacted FEMA repeatedly and sent pictures of the damage. Just this week a second inspector came out and said he would resubmit the claim.

If you or anyone you know would like to appeal a FEMA decision, open a Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) account at www.disasterassistance.gov. Once your account is open, you can update your current contact information, upload your appeal documents and review letters from FEMA. When you upload required documents to your DAC account, an appeal packet is automatically created, which can then be submitted for FEMA’s review.

You may also file your appeal at any disaster recovery center, including DRCs in another state. You can locate a disaster recovery center near you by visiting https://www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers, by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or by downloading the FEMA mobile app at https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app.

Print this article Back to Top