Storm victims have strong feelings about federal government - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Storm victims have strong feelings about federal government

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September 13, 2005

Albany-- Hundreds of evacuees in and around Albany are relying on federal aid to help pay for the astronomical costs to rebuild their homes and lives.

FEMA officials were supposed to be in Albany yesterday to help evacuees sign up for assistance and answer questions about their claims, but they didn't show up Monday or this morning.

Dennis and Darlene Jones know the mobile home they rent in Pass Christian, Mississippi was heavily damaged in Hurricane Katrina. "There are pine trees laying on our house like pretzels. There are great, big holes in our yard where the tornado hit," Darlene said.

August 30th, the couple applied for FEMA assistance to pay for repairs and cover dislocation costs. Two days later, they got this letter from FEMA. "This is my denial letter, this is it right here."

"FEMA said no, because we have renter's insurance,"said Dennis. They were denied any assistance, and they say FEMA deemed their home, "Livable, that we could go back. We've got trees on it, windows busted, there's no water, electricity, the septic's down." said Dennis.

The Jones's showed up to the Albany shelter Monday to ask FEMA officials why they were denied and what they should do now, but FEMA didn't show up. "We have repeatedly asked for FEMA to come in and visit with us," said EMA Deputy Director Jim Vaught.

Vaught says FEMA told him their representative was tied up in an emergency in Atlanta. "I have their utmost assurance that they're driving down here as we speak to be with us the rest of the week and provide that one-on-one conversation that our evacuees are asking for."

Vaught says FEMA officials promise to be at the Beattie Road shelter through Friday. Despite the Jones's problems with FEMA, another evacuee Bradford Asbury says he applied on-line and got the help he needed within a week. "I checked my bank account this morning and there was a deposit in there. So, it does work, but the FEMA people are just overwhelmed right now."

But Dennis Jones has lost his patience. He says he can't say on camera what he wants to tell them. Jones says his President promised him help, and it's up to FEMA to make good on that promise.

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