Homeowners speak out about FEMA's rejection

Wednesday, January 16th 2008, 6:39 pm
By: News 9


Homeowners left with uninsured damages from last month's ice storm are expressing their disappointment with FEMA.

The agency has rejected the state's request for individual assistance.

Homeowners were counting on FEMA to help them with repair costs. Now it appears they may have to foot the bill themselves.

A huge tree had fallen onto Billie Sabin's house. FEMA representatives stopped by her home to survey the damage Sabin estimates the damage to her home to be around $30 thousand.

Her claim was rejected by her insurance company because it doesn't cover damage from ice storms.
So, Sabin was counting on FEMA for help, but she's been let down again.

"When the FEMA representatives were here, they told us to go ahead and have the roof fixed and everything else fixed, and they would reimburse us," Sabin said. "It left us with the impression FEMA was going to go ahead and approve the disaster relief for individuals."

Sabin and her husband are retired and live on a fixed income. She says the only way they can afford to make the repairs is to do a little at a time over the next several years.

The governor isn't giving up. He has 30 days to appeal FEMA's decision; he says he plans to do so.

"Some have alleged that a tighter federal budget means they are just being tighter with federal disaster money, which we think is not an appropriate way to respond to any disaster," Paul Sund, Governor's office spokesman, said. "You respond to what the need merits, but there has also been a complaint that since FEMA was placed under the Department of Homeland Security back after 9-11, that FEMA has become less responsive, as we saw in Katrina, and as we're now seeing in Oklahoma. So, FEMA has done some good things in the past and we welcome their help, but we just think they really missed the call on this because Oklahoma's need help and they deserve it."

The governor has also contacted the state's congressional delegation for help.

Oklahoma's 5th District Representative, Mary Fallin, spoke with NEWS 9's Alex Cameron about her active pursuit in gaining FEMA assistance for Oklahomans. The full interview is featured in the video link to the right.