“Not everyone is rushing to take FEMA up on their offer. Call it PSTSD — Post Sandy Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Ed was one of 146,000 people FEMA suspects may have been cheated by insurance companies that doctored engineering reports often citing soil shift, rather than flooding, as the reason a home collapsed.
But he isn’t interested in dealing with FEMA again – even if it means leaving $50,000 on the table. And Ed said some of his neighbors feel the same way.
“I know of at least eight people who are not going to do anything,” he wrote in an email. “They are fearful that FEMA will just find issues with the settlement they received. And so am I. We have turned the page … and given the present climate of government relations at the federal level, most of us are very fearful of retribution.”
If this sounds crazy to you, you haven’t been through the interminable bureaucratic nightmare of Sandy recovery. Because everyone – victims, activists, lawyers, even FEMA – agrees that fear and distrust will keep thousands from renewing their claims.
“I hear this 35 times a day,” said George Kasimos, of Toms River, the founder of Stop FEMA Now, a grassroots organization of Sandy victims, with 30,000 members nationwide. “People are afraid to let the government back in their lives.” Those were almost the exact same words spoken by Rafael Lemaitre, FEMA’s director of public affairs in Washington.
“We understand people don’t want the government back in the lives,” Lemaitre said this week from Washington. “But we’re determined to restore trust and fulfill our obligations to policy holders.”