From FEMA Answers
FEMA Answers is designed to help the survivors of the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita obtain adequate assistance from FEMA. The goal of this site is to provide information about FEMA programs and what benefits survivors should receive. As of 2007, much of this information is out of date since FEMA programs have changed over time. This site may also be used to organize information from other disasters. This type of site is called a wiki web site and depends on your participation. Please take time contribute to this site. The first step is to read the editing page of this web site.
- This page includes Survivor Testimony, Housing Recovery, FEMA Litigation, News and Links & Assistance.
Did You Know These FEMA Facts?
See Main Article FEMA Litigation
RIDGELY v. FEMA On June 13, 2007, Judge Berrigan granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction and ordered FEMA to stop terminating rental assistance, collecting overpayments, or resolving appeals until FEMA provides adequate advanced written notice setting forth the reason for the termination or alleged overpayment and further providing the recipient with the opportunity to have a hearing before any action is taken to terminate benefits or recover an alleged overpayment. In addition, the court ordered FEMA to provide notice to all individuals who have an appeal pending offering the individual the right to have their rental assistance reinstated until FEMA provides the notice and opportunity for a hearing. The Judge's decision and order set forth the reasoning and provide the details of what FEMA must do in compliance with the court's decision.
On April 19, 2007, the complaint for this case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Plaintiffs allege that FEMA operates an unresponsive system of administrative review and issues termination notices that are confusing and contain little more than undecipherable acronyms, and that FEMA has failed to publish standards setting forth the eligibility requirements. Also challenged in the suit are FEMA’s practices regarding recovery of alleged overpayments to aid recipients. The lawsuit alleges FEMA violates the Constitution by failing to provide aid recipients with clear notice of the reasons why it is seeking repayment of assistance and by terminating or withholding continued rental assistance before recipients are given an opportunity to dispute FEMA’s demands for repayment. Persons displaced by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita who have been denied continued rental assistance by FEMA may call a hotline established at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law to speak with local counsel about the lawsuit. The number is 504-861-5600.
On November 29, the Federal Court in D.C. issued an opinion in ACORN v. FEMA requiring restoration of Section 403 benefits to all evauees who, as of August 31, 2006, had been found ineligible for Section 408 benefits until such time as they have received detailed explanations why they were ineligible and are allowed appeals of those decisions. The Court's order provides additional details. FEMA filed an appeal of this decision on December 5. Pleadings from the case area available on the Public Citizen web site.
On December 12, Judge Duval of the U.S. District Court, issued an order requiring FEMA to extend the hotel/motel program until February, 2006. Among other things, the order stops FEMA from requiring completion of an SBA loan application before Temporary Housing Assistance is given. On January 12, 2006, Judge Duval issued a modified order regarding closure of the hotel/motel program. This order extended the deadline so that the earliest evacuees can be terminated from the hotel program was February 13.
On June 16, Judge Duval issued a 44 page decision in McWaters v. FEMA. The decision affirms earlier rulings made by the Court, but does not order FEMA to take any additional steps at this time. The Court is critical of FEMA's failure to make adquate information available about what assistance the agency provides, and states that it may revisit FEMA's practices if raised by plaintiffs in the suit.
For information regarding how recovery efforts to rebuild housing in the affected area, the Housing Recovery page is the place to organize those concerns.
Advocates organizing a better FEMA response need information from those working directly with survivors. This information is needed to make sure the right questions are posed to FEMA, and to make sure that elected representatives get an accurate picture of what is occurring. Note that general requests for help have been directed to web sites such as Katrinavictims.org.
- Congress continues to investigate the response to the disasters in the Gulf Coast. Write down your concerns for presentation to Congress at email@example.com.
- Submit specific questions to be addressed by FEMA to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please submit experiences of problems with federal agencies and assistance to Katrina@nlchp.org.
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is seeking your help in identifying gaps in the housing assistance coverage currently being provided by FEMA and HUD to Hurricane Katrina victims. Please respond to the CBPP Survey on Gaps in Assistance.
Also there is a FEMA Questions page here for survivors who want to pose questions regarding FEMA assistance.
Relevant News Articles
Links and Other Assistance
- National Low Income Housing Coalition - Katrina News
- Katrina Information Network
- Relief Resources from craigslist
- National Housing Law Project - Katrina Links
- National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty - Katrina resource home page (links to specific issue areas including education and id issues)
- Send e-mail to NLCHP.org for experiences/problems getting assistance from federal agencies
- The Enterprise Foundation - Katrina Response Page
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Katrina Page
- Housing Assistance Council - Katrina Information, focusing on rural housing
- New York Lawyers for the Public Interest-Help for evacuees with a disability
- Nation Multi Housing Council - Overview of rental housing programs and recent changes to program deadlines and guidelines
Other wiki sites
- Criticism of government response to Katrina on Wikipedia
- FEMAinfo.us Victims from Tropical Storm and Hurricane Isabel banded together through FEMAinfo.us to share information regarding their wrongful denial of flood claims.
Organizations offering resources such as housing, transportation, or other assistance (not directly from FEMA) may post to the Other Assistance page.
- UnitedWayCrisisRecovery.org - For Katrina evacuees living in metropolitan Chicago. Filling out the crisis recovery form will help connect you with a case worker, to receive continuing services.
- Jim Bennett at the Heartland Alliance in Chicago is putting together a set of resources for Katrina and Rita survivors in Chicago. Chicago Resources
- Hurricanehousing.org Thousands of people throughout the region and the country are stepping up to offer free shelter to those in need. Note there is also a Hurricanehousing.net, sponsored by Louisiana realtors.