Homeowners impacted by Harvey flooding say FEMA is testing their will, too.
They don’t know why they’ve been denied grant money.
A step through Gina Malewicz’s front door reveals what floodwaters did.
“We thought we were going to get 4 inches,” Malewicz said. “We got 28 inches.”
Everything on the first floor, including a recently remodeled kitchen, is ruined.
“And water is just water, but this was not just water,” Malewicz said. “It was raw sewage, you could smell it, you couldn’t walk through it, and our home was soaked in it.”
Like everyone in her subdivision where piles of debris line the streets, Malewicz figured her family was a shoe-in for FEMA relief.
Then they got an email which states, in part, “you are NOT ELIGIBLE.”
“It’s possible to have 28 inches of water and still get denied,” said FEMA spokesman Peter Herrick.
But Herrick says don’t believe everything you read, even in a FEMA letter.
“A lot of letters we put out will say “denial” at the top when really what it means is we need more information from you,” Herrick said. “Your application’s incomplete.”
He says the agency cannot duplicate any benefits flood insurance or loans might provide.
“I know it can be frustrating to go through, but what we want people to do is prove to us we made a mistake,” Herrick said. “We want to provide as much assistance as we possibly can.”
An inspector determined Gina Malewicz’s home was still habitable despite the damage.
“We can’t live here,” Malewicz said.
She plans to appeal and “flood” FEMA with any other information it may need.
Here’s something else to keep in mind: FEMA grants cannot exceed $33,300. We heard from a man on Twitter who got just $11. Herrick said it’s possible based on the application process and calculations FEMA uses.