Full FEMA Award? It Takes A 'Bundle'

Sep 2, 2016

More than 135-thousand south Louisiana households have applied for FEMA assistance thus far. But many of those who’ve received their awards already are – shall we say? – disappointed.

“When FEMA first come in and announced $33-thousand, that’s what people heard.,” state Senator Bodi White complained. “It’s that one line soundbite, and everything else, they don’t hear that. And, you know, it’s not true.”

White, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Homeland Security, grilled Louisiana Recovery director Mark Reilly about the discrepancies Thursday. Reilly said some have gotten the full amount.

“Of the 49-thousand that have been inspected, a little over a thousand have received the max award to date,” Reilly told the committee.

“Most of the people in my area that I talk to either don’t qualify, or it’s substantially a fourth of that maybe, -- a fifth of that,” White insisted. “Is it income-based and asset-based?”

“It’s not income-based,” Reilly replied.

Reilly works for GOHSEP, not FEMA, but said the max award only comes with maximum damage.

“That’s some money in your house; that’s rental assistance; if you had a damaged car; if you had damaged appliances – so, it’s kind of a combination of different things.”

White confirmed he understood, saying it’s like bundling all your insurance policies with one company. But what if that’s not what you need?

“There’s an opportunity to bundle that $33-thousand to different losses, but if you decided you wanted to do a straight loss on your house where you could get back in it, you can’t do that?” White asked.

“You’re right,” Reilly responded. “I ‘ve heard a lot of people a little frustrated that they see the damage to their house being much greater than 33-thousand, and yet they’re not getting the full amount. I think that the max you can get just on your house is 17-thousand dollars.”

For the rest of your losses, the feds provide SBA loans.