WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- After Westchester announced residents could begin applying for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid Thursday, many Cloverdale Avenue families , including the Ciracos, say assistance couldn't come soon enough.
Meghan Ciraco, 27, a medical officer, said her insurance company would only contribute $5,000 towards the $50,000 of damage that ensued after Irene swamped her 14 Cloverdale Ave. home with sewage and storm water. A representative in County Executive Robert Astorino's office told Ciraco she was on a list being given to FEMA, but Ciraco said there's still a lot of confusion about when FEMA assessors and aid will arrive.
"It's been five days and I haven't heard anything. We've banked on FEMA coming to save us and so far it hasn't happened," said Ciraco, whose family is unable to live in their house. "It's a nightmare. We lost everything. I have one pair of shoes left. I have flip-flops because I lent them to my sister."
Because her home didn't have a basement, the flooding soaked the entire contents of her house with sewage water. Ciraco said knowing that her house is sanitary and mold-free is one of her biggest priorities.
"This was going to be our first home. We were going to have our first Halloween and first Thanksgiving here," Ciraco said of the house she bought about 7 months ago. "This is where we live. Give us some funds to get mattresses so we have somewhere to lay our heads. Help us get the mold situation under control. I can't bring my 17-month-old back here with the chance of there being mold."
Ciraco said she and other Cloverdale Avenue families keep hearing FEMA will be coming on different dates. Her neighbor, Art Prudhomme, 54, has been going door to door to let families know the latest FEMA forecast. Now, even Prudhomme isn't sure when assessments will begin.
"I'm waiting for a phone call from them. They've been great on the phone and I understand they're busy," said Prudhomme, who said a FEMA representative once offered to drive to his 32 Cloverdale Ave. home after he finished a job in Washington D.C. "I'm like, 'No, that's an hour away. We'll figure it out later."'
FEMA representatives in Westchester have only been sent out to help residents and businesses through the registration process. As of Friday, no technicians had begun assessments. However, groundwork will begin once a Westchester disaster recovery center is established and staffed, according to Michael McCormick, a FEMA press representative.
In the mean time, County Executive Robert Astorino issued a press release advising residents and small businesses to register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-3362. More details and registration information are available on FEMA's website.
Astorino also urged those affected to document the damage with photographs and receipts from repairs. Residents and businesses should also contact their insurance company to see what damage may be covered.
How optimistic are you about FEMA assistance? Do you know residents or businesses who have helped families suffering from Irene damage? Email thoughts to email@example.com and we'll include your responses in future coverage.
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