FEMA encourages hurricane victims who are denied assistance to appeal

A 76-year-old woman who is disabled was flooded out of her home and said she was denied assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FOX 35 News went to FEMA for answers.

"Every night, I cry. I’m worried so much," said Theresa Scardina whose home at the Good Samaritan Village was flooded during Ian.

"It’s crazy, absolutely crazy," said Scardina's son, Joe Marois. "I’ve called everyone's number possible, and they keep referring me to FEMA which has done absolutely nothing." 

Marois said his mother was denied assistance even though she is legally blind in one eye. He said her scooter was also destroyed by the floods. "FEMA basically told me I needed a FEMA letter, and I’m like, ‘I gave you all the documentation. I made an appeal letter’," he said.

"There’s an appeal process, and they can appeal more than once," said Jann Tracey, spokesperson for FEMA. She explained how people need to show their social security number, proof of address where the damage occurred and the name of their insurance agent to file a claim.


And if a person is denied? "If they can get to a disaster recovery center and take that letter with them and talk to them, they can look up their case and find out why it was denied." 

She explained how sometimes it just takes patience as a person waits, even someone with disabilities. "FEMA is very cognizant of people with disabilities and tries to help them along the way we possibly can. But in terms of expediting the process, no, everybody is treated exactly the same."

While Marois put his mother into an Airbnb, he said he can’t afford to do this much longer. 

"She can't drive because she’s legally blind. And I don’t know what to do at this point because she’s out on Sunday," said Marois. 

FEMA says it’s put $270 millin back into the pockets of Florida hurricane victims. If you need assistance call FEMA at 800-621-FEMA or file online at www.FEMA.gov.