TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Too many Hurricane Ian victims are waiting for help, all because of a common clerical error. 8 On Your Side has a warning. In a revealing interview, a top state official shares the urgent message with Investigator Mahsa Saeidi.
More than 80 days ago, Hurricane Ian hit the state. 8 On Your Side is looking out for the victims of that terrible storm.
We have important information that’ll make sure your recovery is not delayed.
When Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 28, it was one of the most powerful and deadly storms to ever strike Florida. Two million people lost powers.
Others, like Charity Bent and her entire family, lost everything. While on the scene with us in Fort Myers, Charity was overcome with emotion.
“Is your family ok?” asked Investigator Mahsa Saeidi. “My mom wound up in the hospital,” said Charity. “It’s going to be a long road, it’s definitely going to be a long road.”
The Florida Division of Emergency Management, Kevin Guthrie is encouraging those affected to stay positive with getting recovery help.
“Please, please this is positive, we’re trying to help you, let us help you and your recovery,” said Guthrie.
Guthrie has been busy on-the-ground, coordinating the state’s response to Ian, then, Nicole.
Thus far, he says nearly 900 thousand have asked FEMA for some sort of storm aid.
Based on his years of experience, Guthrie anticipates out of that batch, up to 90,000 Floridians may need housing assistance.
But the road to recovery – or the process to access federal, state, and local aid – isn’t always simple.
“I know this is all complicated and confusing to listeners. I understand that but that’s why we wanted to get out there with you, get our message out in the network,” said Dir. Guthrie.
Here’s the takeaway: Housing assistance is always federally funded.
Guthrie says that means the state cannot help you unless FEMA approves it. Right now, due to a clerical error, many storm victims are stuck in limbo.
“We had 1,300 names that we sent for eligibility on housing, only 75 people have been approved so far,” said Dir. Guthrie.
“Why? The balance of that 1,225 names did not have their valid FEMA registration updated.”
Now, the urgent warning for storm victims, waiting for help: Log onto FEMA’s website and ensure your application is complete, valid, and up to date.
If you’ve been displaced by this storm, there are two websites you can visit to get help.
First, FEMA as we mentioned in this report. Second, you’ll also want to put in an application at the state’s website which can be found here.
Dir. Guthrie says they have a call center as well and they’re standing by to help.
If you’re waiting on storm relief and you’d like to share your story, email investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com