It was January 1994 and the jolt woke us with a start. Earthquake…a big one! We leaped out of bed. I remember the noise, the total confusion and the pain as our china cabinet struck me on the back and broken glass went everywhere. I remember seeing that my girlfriend had taken a hit from a lamp and was already showing a huge knot on her head. We had to struggle to open the door because the building was literally collapsing and warping around us. We screamed for our neighbors to help us, and together we got the door to open.
For the next few minutes, everything is chaos in my memory, and then we were in the parking lot. No more screaming, no more terror of a building coming down on us, and clearly no more home to go to.
Barefoot, bleeding and wearing only sweatpants, I realized we needed medical care. At the hospital, we were turned away because we weren’t critical. I could see that the nurses weren’t lying. It was a nightmare.
Heading to my sister’s home, our hopes were dashed when we saw she had lost everything too. The only place for us was the bare lot, a collection of grass and dirt, across the street from her home. We camped there for the next three days, and thankfully the people who did not suffer total losses helped us out.
Without their first aid supplies, water, clothing, food and even their barbecue, we would never had made it through. These people were truly a godsend.
And then what? I waited for three weeks after my FEMA inspection [where the inspector was clearly incompetent] to receive my letter for relocation assistance. I was declined. I was declined even though the building was “red tagged” and collapsed!
I wish there was a book like this back then! I could have read it to educate myself about how FEMA worked, and may have spared myself some major headaches. It would have been real helpful to know before an earthquake that I should have secured the china cabinet to the wall, never hang pictures over my bed and so much more.
If I had Robert’s book, I would have known how to deal with #FEMAinspectors and even FEMA itself. Instead of housing assistance alone, I would have known how to appeal and to get money for my personal property. I would have kept every receipt, deducted losses from my taxes and so much more.
Don’t be a “shoulda, woulda, coulda” person like me. Buy this book, use the advice on every page, and prepare yourself for disasters and the even worse disasters that sometimes follow.
This is where you’ll soon be able to learn about excellent places to see and things to do in Kauai and other places Frecks has been. Stay tuned! #smelltheroses
After a disaster, the FEMA inspector at your door might be inexperienced, incompetent or impaired.
I spend a lot of my book talking about how a contract #FEMAinspector (CFI) is a real human being taking time out of their real life to help you, most often with the best intentions and the most professional demeanor. But it is true, (as we saw in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy) that the inspector at your door might sometimes be a bit more human than it is in your best interests.
You need to know that if you are worried about a FEMA inspector’s behavior or professionalism, if you fear you received a “kitchen inspection,” if your inspector seems to be lost through the process, you may be right. You have recourse. You can always appeal your inspection.
I encourage you to ask a few questions about the FEMA inspector’s background. “Did you do tornado (or relevant disaster) work in the past?” “How long have you been inspecting?” You have every right to know the truth about your CFI, and it is up to you to figure out whether or not they are doing the best job possible for you.
One of the major contractors had trained more than 90,000 CFIs and yet when Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey, only 3,000 showed up. The high turnover rate for CFIs is a problem, and in the wake of each disaster, rookies have to be trained to handle the number of inspections. Many of the inspections done after Hurricane Sandy, for example, were done by rookies, and may have been substandard and are probably valid candidates for appeals from the applicants. I don’t know how many of the applications were appealed, but I doubt it was anywhere near the number that could have been easily challenged.
If you’d like to learn more about what to expect and what to watch out for when you open the door to a FEMA inspector, I have a chapter in my book devoted to this.