A cool evening in New Orleans. The wife fixed another wonderful meal, we ate and laughed and I enjoyed an Abita Beer.
And now I must fill out the FEMA paperwork.
But I’m not complaining.
I mean, you can’t expect the government to just fork over money without some checks and balances, right? Just because your house got sloshed and your stuff is now one big mold farm exhibit, you don’t really think that automatically means you need aid, do ya?
So you have to gather receipts and keep track of expenditures. You start a file of insurance correspondence and NGO donations.
I’m not complaining, really.
Several weeks ago I spoke to someone at FEMA about getting rental assistance. Sure I have insurance, and lots of it. But there’s no “Loss of Use” coverage on the federal flood policy. That kind of coverage is only available as part of homeowner’s insurance.
And when your house floods, that coverage remains untouchable in plain view, like fine jewelry behind a thick glass display window.
The FEMA lady was very nice and explained the application process step by step, including the Housing Assistance Rejection letter they would be sending me.
Yes, she kindly told me, everyone will get a letter that says their request for Housing Assistance is denied. This same letter will explain how to appeal this decision, which she encouraged me to do because I’m probably eligible.
I’m sure it makes sense to some bureaucratic wonk somewhere. But really, I’m not complaining.
The other day we got the rejection letter in the mail. “Good news!” I said to the wife. I had to explain to her that getting turned down was progress in the FEMA scheme of things. It’s much like a teenage girl making out. Sometimes, “No” can mean “Yes.”
All I had to do now was write a letter, attach all supporting documentation, send it in and wait for another letter.
But really, I’m not complaining.
“Thank you for rejecting my request for Housing Assistance! We were thrilled to get your letter. We really appreciate your interest in the plight of our family.
“Let’s recap: Our house is toast. We’ve already spent the $2,358 for housing assistance you sent to us in September. In fact, since Hurricane Katrina, we’ve spent more than $6,750 just on rent and emergency expenses. We’re sure we will continue have uninsured, storm-related housing expenses for the foreseeable future. Any help here would be appreciated.
“Be a pal, FEMA, and let us know what you can do for us, if anything. And don’t be such a stranger!
But seriously, I’m not complaining.
They were kind enough to send me a quick claim form, too. I was asked to provide some basic personal information and to declare, under penalty of perjury, “I have a continuing need for Housing.”
I guess there must be some folks who don’t have a continuing need for housing. Those folks might be homeless and might want to remain so. But that’s not me. And I guess FEMA wants to weed out the homeless. I don’t know why.
Look, I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not.
I’m glad FEMA is rigorously screening all applicants, even those of us from parts of the city where every single house got 7 feet of water. I’m happy to know that FEMA has created a counterintuitive process to test the will of those seeking aid. I’m pleased they’re sorting out the homeless, and I’m really glad they want me to prove that I don’t have insurance coverage that’s not even offered and that I’m really living in a different place now that my home is uninhabitable.
Seriously. I’m NOT complaining.
I mean, WHAT THE HELL DIFFERENCE WOULD IT MAKE?