Death by FEMA. 6-2-14
I have Spinal Cord Injury with Severe Autonomic Dysfunction. That means life functions in me that you cannot control are broken and malfunctioning. Serious! I am in intractable pain 24/7. Before Sandy, I was a totally functional, independent advocate for disabled individuals for 37 years, with the aid of $50,000 in medical equipment and an accessible home.
My home was totaled in SuperStorm Sandy by 6 feet of floodwaters and a sewage surge from the Cedar Creek Sewage Treatment Plant next door, that destroyed my belongings. During SuperStorm Sandy Recovery, I was compelled to remain at a hotel under medical documentation when others were able to move on to apartments. That fact made me victim of FEMA: denied, demonized because of my disability, dismissed, harassed, coerced, slandered, and retaliated against unmercifully. FEMA grossly misrepresented the facts repeatedly and deliberately, preventing me from receiving help from others. FEMA refused to admit that I was disabled for many critical months, and refused to officially afford me Reasonable Accommodation under legal statutes during SuperStorm Sandy Recovery, even after I filed 2 legal Appeals for Reasonable Accommodation in housing, and Civil Rights and Equal Access Complaints. I was refused reasonable accommodation in temporary housing by HUD because I was “FEMA’s responsibility,” and I was told repeatedly I did not qualify for NYRising Housing Programs.
Obviously, I would not remain at a hotel, tormented and vilified by FEMA, if FEMA had identified Substantial Damage to my house (that being that my house floated off its foundation, discovered by 2 Town Building Inspections one year later). Instead, I wasted time and exhausted insurance funds, attempting to fix, specifically at the direction of FEMA, a house that had to be bull-dozed and rebuilt not repaired, while being told by all insurance inspectors it was totaled
After I exhausted my personal money at the hotel, after promises, denials, more denials, the LIHWC kept me at the hotel for three months, until May 1. They cut me off the same day they found out I received an Acquisition offer on my house from NY Recreate. However, it takes several months to get a closing after you accept a NYState Acquisition Offer to buy your Substantially Damaged home. I have appealed to the LIHWC to reconsider. Red Cross refused to help, claiming they “have no programs”.
NYRising called the hotel on May 2 and asked them to keep me at the hotel over the weekend, while they looked for a program to help me. Yesterday, NY Rising called the hotel and told them they have no idea who could pay my temporary housing bill until Closing. This was one month after asking them to keep me here unpaid as a favor to NY Rising. I was told the owner is furious. The hotel called me and said I have 2 days to tell them how I will pay going forward and said they would accept no promises. I called every program I am aware of. No one will help.
Five days ago the hotel started locking me out of the hotel room every time I leave the room, even to walk my service dog. They told me it is because the bill is unpaid, and they will continue to lock me out and “check me out” until the bill is paid.
What are we who are different through no fault of our own, supposed to do? The disabled should have been the first group to go home in the Disaster Recovery equation, not the last. Where have all the disabled gone? They suffered and died waiting, too long!! I remember their names. Nobody noticed.