ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – FEMA’s mobile registration intake center has been traveling around Seminole County since Hurricane Ian struck, offering an easy way to apply for aid. But officials say some residents are getting an unexpected notification.
Anita Simmons said she brought her mom to FEMA’s mobile site after portions of her home in Altamonte Springs were damaged. She said the side porch was damaged, and the utility room and den were destroyed.
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“When the guy was filling out the application, he found out that someone on the 6th had already, I guess here or wherever, filled out an application for assistance on (her mother’s) name and address,” Simmons said.
Simmons’ name was just one of more than 50 to show at FEMA’s mobile site at St. John’s Missionary Baptist church. News 6 saw people throughout the day coming from Longwood, Casselberry and other parts of Seminole County, looking for a bit of relief.
Health care workers present advised people to also get seen by medical professionals because of that damage.
Connie McMillon-Thomas, a community health nurse with the Department of Health, said she has seen a lot of people come through the mobile site with water damage similar to Simmons.
She sids that’s the reason she is warning everyone of the possibility of mold forming.
“It could mess up your respiratory system, yes. I suggest for people to continue to wear masks if they are in their home and suspect mold,” McMillon-Thomas said.
Simmons did have to leave the site to verify her mother’s identity and said she is still in disbelief.
“I personally do the things for my mom, taking care of her business, so when they told me that I was like ‘no this is our first time,’ and he told me there are people out there to do stuff like that,” Simmons said.
FEMA does offer tips to avoid scams and fraud, their website stating:
- DHS, FEMA, SBA and other federal agencies will never charge you for disaster assistance.
- Always ask to see I.D. FEMA personnel will always have an official identification badge.
- Do not offer any personal information unless you are speaking with a verified FEMA representative.
- Stay tuned to trusted local media for updates from your local officials on disaster fraud and scams.
- Check with local law enforcement to ensure your identity is protected.
While at the mobile site News 6 learned from FEMA workers that at least three more families had similar accounts of fraud like Simmons, but Simmons said she can only look forward.
“Hopefully, whoever did they didn’t get any money for it,” Simmons said. “So now we are just trying to see the outcome of that.”
Simmons said from here she will be gutting out portions of her mother’s home that was flooded as they work on their road to recovery.
FEMA does have more tips online to avoid Disaster Fraud, click here to learn more.
Residents can also go to FEMA’s disaster recovery center in Sanford for help in applying for assistance. That’s at the Seminole State College Sanford/Lake Mary Campus, Automotive Training Building, 100 Weldon Boulevard. It’s open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
You can also apply by going to disasterassistance.gov.