Lack of Clarity about Deadlines Creates Confusion for East Kentucky Flood Survivors

An article by WKU Public Radio highlights confusion caused by FEMA regarding appeals deadlines for East Kentucky flood survivors. In particular, the article addresses FEMA’s lack of communication about an 18-month deadline for disaster survivors to appeal decisions made by the agency regarding assistance awards. Indeed, FEMA officials appear to be unclear about whether or not a deadline even exists, while disaster survivors have received different explanations from FEMA as to why their cases have been closed.

When a disaster relief lawyer published an op-ed to notify flood survivors of the upcoming deadline, a local FEMA official tried to retract the information, claiming there is no deadline. Meanwhile, when reporters asked federal officials whether there is an appeals deadline, they were told by one official that “I don’t think you can put it simply.” The disaster relief lawyer says she is working with more than 300 clients who are still waiting for aid. Dozens had their appeals rejected around the same time.

The problem is not unique to Kentucky. Saint Bernard’s Project (SBP), a nonprofit working to help disaster survivors around the country recover, has also been affected by the issue. Claire Balsley of SBP said, that FEMA should “Be more transparent, or more vocal. [FEMA should say] you can appeal as many times as you feel like you need to appeal to receive your maximum eligible amount of funding from FEMA up to that 18-month mark.”

For now, flood survivors in Kentucky have been left behind. One such survivor, Susan Hall, says that at this point her house does not meet FEMA’s three basic requirements for houses: being safe, sanitary, and functional. “This house is none of them – I’m telling you,” Hall said.

Read NLIHC’s Disaster Recovery Housing Coalition’s recommendations to improve FEMA here.

Read the article here.