FEMA Deadline Puts OK Tornado Victims In Financial Crunch

Thursday, August 15th 2013, 10:07 pm
By: News 9

Monday's FEMA application deadline is not sitting well with many tornado victims, most of whom are still struggling to get the money they need to rebuild. 

A family of four is ready to begin rebuilding on their property where they lived in a home for more than 15 years, but they're having a hard time getting the financial help they need. In fact, they had to give $14,000 back. 

Brian McAlister, his wife and two daughters came home to a pile of debris on May 20. Their home was a total loss.

"I'm ready to get building, ready to get going," McAlister said.

The family lived a block from Plaza Towers Elementary where Brian's 12 -year-old daughter and wife rode out the storm. Ten days after the Moore tornado, Brian and his family moved into an apartment in Norman and immediately began applying for federal assistance. 

"The individuals that want to help have been amazing," said McAlister. "The governing organizations have been clunky at best and downright a major hindrance at times."

So far, FEMA has approved and issued more than $54-million in immediate assistance, that includes small business low interest loans otherwise known as an SBA loan. It's the same loan Brian says he and his family were approved for and even given the first installment of $14,000.

"But a couple of weeks later, they call me back and say due to money I got for the internals of the house from my insurance, that they could only give me a $3,000 loan," said McAlister.

Brian admits his insurance company gave him a $122,000 check, but he felt that wasn't enough. He returned the SBA check anyway, and since then has cleared the family's savings and investment accounts. More than $45,000 saved over a period of at least 7 years by Brian is now gone.  

"We can't duplicate other insurance for example, or other assistance that they're getting," said FEMA spokesperson, Jacqueline Chandler.

"I think that the system has just kind of thrown us away," McAlister said.

An SBA loan representative said Brian needs to simply get back with them to discuss the application. Mon., Aug. 19 is the registration deadline for FEMA and SBA Loan assistance.