FEMA Appeal

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

It's been almost three months since flash floods drove hundreds of Rockford families from their homes and most are still waiting for aid and answers.
"It took out the south wall of the basement, it just came in in a big gush and a flood. It pinned one of the family members down in the basement," says flood victim Doris Hansen.
After the Hansens pulled their grandaughter's fiancee unharmed from floodwaters up to his mouth, after they added up the thousands of dollars in damage, they began the long trial of waiting for help.
"There's been a lot of people that promised but nothing happened," says Hansen.
State and local politicians say they can't help everyone alone. Tonight they lobbied FEMA to reconsider a request for federal disaster relief.
"I am convinced along with Mayor Morissey that FEMA never gathered sufficient evidence in order to make an intelligent decision," says Congressman Don Manzullo.
FEMA denied the initial request saying there was not enough damage to be considered a federal disaster. The city appealed. Mayor Morissey now says initial estimates on how many were seriously impacted were too low. FEMA will now review the new information, for how long is unclear.
Says FEMA Spokesperson Jean Baker, "We try not to make a timeline for it because we want to have enough time to look at all the facts and look at all the issues and make a determination."
Tonight was a chance for flood victims to make appeals of their own directly to FEMA.
"For them to come face to face with the federal agency that has been denying them relief and to explain to their faces why they've been denying them relief. I think they're entitled to that," says Congressman Manzullo.
Doris Hansen says she's just tired of waiting for answers: "I would like them to say this is how it is, rather than go out and hold on for another month and we're gonna help you. If we're not gonna get help we need to know."
No decision was reached tonight. So far this year, FEMA has declared 48 major disasters throughout the united states. Congressman Manzullo says he's still optimistic Rockford could become number 49.


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