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Investigation: Sandy victims struggle with FEMA

December 5, 2012 3:09:00 PM PST
President Obama is getting ready to ask Congress for $50 billion in additional emergency aid to help states hit by Hurricane Sandy.

When the president was on Staten Island last month he promised to cut through the red tape to help residents.

But, an Eyewitness News investigation found homeowners who say they're not getting the help they have been promised and desperately need.

"This just actually fell apart, that was my bedroom over there," said Emilio Langilotti, of Crescent Beach, Staten Island.

When the 10-foot surge hit Emilio Langilotti's home, it destroyed all he owned.

"This is my total house. Everything is ruined," Langilotti said.

FEMA reacted quickly by giving him two months rental assistance which helped him secure an apartment. But that's where Emilio's recovery stopped slamming smack up against a bureaucratic wall.

"I crossed every T and dotted every I," Langilotti said.

He applied for a FEMA grant to replace some of the furniture, clothing, and appliances he lost. A FEMA inspector came out to assess the damage, but then there was trouble.

"FEMA is telling me they are not going to approve a grant because of insufficient damage," Langilotti said.

Emilio has filed an appeal. He's not alone; 80-year-old Charlotte Goldgrab whom Eyewitness News met days after Sandy has been turned down for the same assistance.

"All the furniture went out in the trash it was all wet," Goldgrab said.

FEMA denied her funds to replace lost property claiming her "Ineligible" because she had flood 'insurance, but her insurance only covers the basement level.

Sandy destroyed everything on the first floor:

"The insurance companies haven't sent us anything, then FEMA's not going to do anything so it's all tied up in this red tape who knows where," Goldgrab said.

"We are not going to tolerate red tape not going to tolerate bureaucracy," President Obama had said back on October 31, 2012.

They were stern words from the President, but even those entangled in red tape seem to understand in a recovery of this scale, there's bound to be some bureaucracy.

"We do agree it is a screw up somewhere after red tape and bureaucratic mess hopefully they will help as they have been," Langilotti said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Eyewitness News learned that Emilio got a call from FEMA saying a check for $8,000 is in the mail.

Meanwhile, FEMA says it cannot comment on specific cases due to privacy issues.

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