Kissimmee family still seeks help months after Hurricane Ian

Top reason people end up ineligible for help is lack of documentation, FEMA said

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – It’s been seven months since Hurricane Ian hit Central Florida, and a Kissimmee family is still struggling to get on their feet while waiting for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The house that Eddie Davis and his family were living in was flooded in the middle of the storm, and they were forced to leave immediately.

About half of the homes in the Dellwood Park community were flooded during Ian. Some people eventually had to be rescued by airboat and then brought to dry land.

News 6 was reporting live near the neighborhood when it started, and we captured many families who had to escape their homes.

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“It’s been a rough last seven months,” Davis told News 6. “I’ve been bouncing around working and going to different hotels and staying with family members and friends.”

Davis, along with his mother and brother, has been living in a studio apartment for the last several days.

“It’s just been crazy. I lost my cars, the house — everything,” he said.

When Ian hit, Davis and his family were sharing a home on Poinciana Drive with another tenant.

Davis said the lease was in that tenant’s name, and it has impacted their ability to get help from FEMA.

“I’ve just been waiting on them to help me, and they haven’t,” Davis said.

He said he’s submitted multiple applications to FEMA, all of which have been denied.

The main reason: FEMA said Davis has not provided proper documentation to prove that the damaged home was where they lived for a major portion of the calendar year, according to their denial notice.

However, Davis said he has submitted the documentation.

“They just keep saying that we need to have proof of residency,” he told News 6.

The family said they also lost their car in the storm because the engine was waterlogged.

Meanwhile, Davis said he is trying his best to stay positive, but it’s difficult.

His mother has asthma and sometimes needs a nebulizer, and they found out this week that they must leave the place they’re living in now.

“If you ask what the storm did to me: it did a lot. It did a lot,” he said.

News 6 called the Salvation Army for Davis.

The Salvation Army did offer the family a spot at their shelters, but so far, the family has declined that.

FEMA told News 6 that officials are still working with the family. Officials are now connecting them with the Individual Assistance branch for follow-up, according to a spokesperson.

FEMA officials explained that a lack of documentation is the No. 1 reason why people who actually have damage end up ineligible for assistance.

If you get a denial letter from FEMA, it will also have directions on how to appeal.

If you have questions, you can call FEMA’s helpline at 800-621-3362.

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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.