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FEMA Reportedly Making Katrina Victims Return Money

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

6 years ago, Hurricane Katrina tore through the gulf, hitting New Orleans and surrounding areas. The well documented aftermath will always be rememebered in one word, FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s actions during the Katrina clean-up were controversial to say the least.  Accused of taking too long to give aide to victims of Katrina, FEMA’s reputation was damaged.  And now they are doing something that won’t help that reputation, demading money back from some of the victims.

Last week, FEMA sent out notifications to more that 83,000 aide recepients asking them to reimburse FEMA an average of $4,622 each.  According to FEMA, a clerical/employee error caused many victims to receive more money than allocated.  Frustration over this news has reached the local government, with Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu rejecting FEMA’s claim that the law requires the agency to recover their losses, even if the the vicitms were not at fault,

“Disaster victims shouldn’t be punished because FEMA is dysfunctional.  Most of these families facing recoupment are honest survivors facing incredible challenges who used the funds for legitimate and urgent disaster-related needs.”

One of those victims that is being forced to repay is David Bellinger, a 63-year-old legally blind former resident of New Orleans.  Bellinger received a notice from FEMA telling him that he had 30 days to repay $3,200.  According to Bellinger, he survives on social security, and to repay the money would entirely wipe out his savings. 

Senator Landrieu has introduced and sponsored a bill that President Obama has recently signed into law that will allow, but not require, FEMA to wave the outstanding bills they are asking victims to repay.

via The Root

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