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And So It Begins: FEMA Starts Issuing Financial Aid Rejection Letters

Sandy Victims Don't Understand Why Some Are Told No And Some Aren't
Residents Talk To FEMA Official On Staten Island (file/credit: CBS 2)

Residents Talk To FEMA Official On Staten Island (file/credit: CBS 2)

Superstorm Sandy

BELLMORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A tale of two homeowners on Long Island is highlighting the frustrations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Storm victims who thought the agency would come to their aid, are instead getting a big dose of disappointment, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported Thursday.

“It’s two weeks and no help. They say it’s coming, but there’s no help,” said Mike McLaughlin of Bellmore.

McLaughlin’s home took a beating from Sandy, and he said he thought help would be in the mail from FEMA.

He said the letter from the feds started out so nice.

“We recognize that this is a difficult time for you and your family, and understand many people need help following a disaster,” McLaughlin said while reading.

But McLaughlin is not one of those many people. He was denied, because he had flood insurance. It was the same story at his neighbor’s house, which had six feet of flood water. The trouble is McLaughlin and his neighbor said they have no idea what they’ll get from their own insurance.

McLaughlin said he spent $5,000 on materials, but could use something to cut red tape.

“My mortgage won’t help until insurance company and FEMA won’t help until they hear from insurance company and everybody is chasing their tail,” McLaughlin said.

And McLaughlin also said he does not understand who is getting what. His neighbor, who has flood insurance, just got a $3,200 check.

“We lost a kitchen. We lost a bathroom. Some of my friends lost their whole first floor. They got nothing,” said Rina Johnsen of Bellmore.

The Johnsens said they don’t know why they got a check, while others didn’t. McLaughlin said he only wants things to be fair.

“If everybody is in the same boat, there should be some consistency on how things are done,” McLaughlin said.

FEMA said just because you have flood insurance doesn’t mean you’re automatically denied aid. The agency said everyone can appeal their cases.

FEMA told CBS 2 it could not comment on individual cases.

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