FEMA reaches deadline for Hurricane Ian assistance

News 6 asks about the biggest mistakes applicants are making

One million Floridians have already applied for FEMA assistance for Hurricane Ian and are in various stages of being processed on the cusp of the agency’s deadline — Jan. 12.

But why is it some people get their assistance much sooner than others?

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A FEMA spokesperson told News 6 one of the biggest problems they are having is being able to get in touch with people.

Nowadays with robo calls, many people don’t answer calls from unrecognizable numbers, but by not picking up the phone in this case, you could be leaving money on the table.

David Phillip’s Orlo Vista home is still unlivable after it took on several feet of water during Hurricane Ian.

“There’s times coming in here, doing the clean out, depression sets in while you’re going through your life,” Phillips said.

The repairs are finally happening, including re-doing the bathroom, ripping out walls and replacing floors.

All of their belongings are in cabinets and on shelves because the plywood subflooring has just been put down.

His family has been staying in a hotel provided by FEMA for weeks.

FEMA has also funded the repairs.

“FEMA, I’ve actually had no problems with them,” Phillips said.

But across town in Kissimmee, 58-year-old Alex Figueroa is having a different experience.

He was renting a home in Dellwood Park, which flooded during Hurricane Ian.

“I lost all my tools during the hurricane, so I can’t work. I renovate homes. I’m unable to do that. I lost everything,” Figueroa said.

He has been living in the house without power for weeks because he can’t afford to get the electrical inspected, repaired , and turned back on, according to Figueroa.

On top of that his landlord evicted him on Tuesday.

“I guess I’m going to the street. I have no idea where to go. I have no family or anything,” he said.

“I haven’t heard from FEMA at all. I applied right after Hurricane Ian,” he said.

Kimberly Fuller is with FEMA’s Office of Internal Affairs.

We told her about Figueroa and asked questions about the process, including the most common mistakes people make when applying.

“That’s a very good question,” Fuller said.

“Right now, our biggest thing is people might not recognize a phone number, so they don’t even check their messages,” Fuller said. “And often times, it’s just that we’re looking for one bit of information, and that is the only thing that is holding up your application to get approved for funding.”

There are also Small Business Administration loans for homeowners and renters.

Fuller said that some who apply for FEMA assistance will be given an application.

“They must fill it out, even if they don’t want the loan,” Fuller said. “Because let’s say you’re not eligible for the loan, even though they’ve asked you to fill out the application, then your application goes back to FEMA, and you might get the assistance then. So please fill out the SBA loan application.”

Thursday night is the deadline to register, but you don’t have to have all of the documentation uploaded. You just need to get in the system, according to FEMA.

The deadline to register using the helpline is 11 p.m. The helpline number is 800-621-3362.

Using the FEMA app and disasterassistance.gov, the deadline is 11:59 p.m.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.