‘The need is there:’ FEMA workers assist residents at Good Samaritan Village

Mandatory evacuation order was lifted a week ago

Just a week after residents at Good Samaritan Village were allowed to return home after Osceola County lifted its mandatory evacuation order from Hurricane Ian, FEMA officials showed up at the site Tuesday.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Residents at the Good Samaritan Village community got a chance to meet with FEMA officials on site on Tuesday.

It comes just a week after residents were allowed to go back home after Osceola County lifted the mandatory evacuation order from Hurricane Ian.

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“The need is there, the need is there ... definitely to do this and take care of these people,” FEMA spokeswoman Jann Tracey said.

Willie Ausherman, 75, said she came home last week after spending nearly a month at the Good Samaritan Village in DeLand.

“When you compare what happened to a lot of people, we had a lot to be thankful for,” Ausherman said.

Ausherman said she lives inside a unit which was not damaged during the storm, but other residents can’t say the same.

Hundreds of homes in the community are uninhabitable in the community. Out of 702 independent living units on the property, 523 are not being repaired according to Aimee Middleton, Good Samaritan Society vice president of operations. In addition, there are 396 mobile homes on campus. The facility is urging those residents to meet with Kissimmee Village staff if their home is determined to be uninhabitable.

The numbers grow as you look at Osceola County as a whole. More than 29,000 people have registered for help from FEMA, according to an agency spokesperson. They estimate around 600 registrations are from Good Samaritan Society Village and the surrounding area.

Residents at the Good Samaritan Village community got a chance to meet with FEMA officials on site on Tuesday.

“There’s all kind of rumors, but we are just waiting to hear from the authorities,” Janet Banner said.

Banner also came back home last week. She lives in a mobile home and says she’s waiting for a flood adjuster to come and inspect her home.

She told News 6 she’s not sure what’s going to happen with her property and hasn’t heard much from the complex.

“They really don’t know at this point. I’m in the flood zone,” she explained.

FEMA officials initially were going to stay on the property till 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday but said they will stay there as long as there is a need to stay.

“The ones who are fighting here are all elderly,” said Diane Barrett. “We’re too old to start over.”

Diane Barrett has called Good Samaritan Society Village home since 2021. She took News 6 inside her apartment that flooded.

“We’ve had to fight for everything,” said Barrett. “the little bit we got from our insurance was a battle, because they didn’t cover. They said if the roof had caved in, we would be covered for all of our belongings.”

Residents who won’t be able to meet with FEMA can go to the disaster recovery center at the Hart Memorial Central Library in Kissimmee.

Good Samaritan Society Village posted on their website Monday that anyone who lives in a home that cannot be repaired will receive termination notices of their occupancy agreement effective December 1, 2022.

A statement from Aimee Middleton, Good Samaritan Society vice president of operations is below:

We have made the difficult decision to not repair a number of neighborhoods on the campus. Occupancy agreements for residents in these neighborhoods are terminating effective Dec. 1, 2022. Before the termination goes into effect, refunds are being issued automatically in accordance with residents’ occupancy agreements. Monthly rent and fees are not resuming for residents in neighborhoods that are not being repaired.

We recognize this is a very difficult situation for the community. We have explored alternative solutions, but unfortunately, they are not enough to address the long-term challenges.

We are working with residents to obtain assistance and resources through FEMA, the Red Cross and other agencies. We are also communicating with residents about relief programs such as Transitional Shelter Assistance, which allows people to book hotel accommodations.

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About the Authors:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!

Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.