On FEMA Applications

It felt uncomfortable inside Inita Young’s apartment. It was a bodily thing. Dark, dank and claustrophobic. Like a greenhouse. Feet gliding on moisture across the linoleum.

Mold was taking over, destined to join the parade of small roaches that scurried about. Two young grandchildren played on the kitchen floor and slept in gloomy bedrooms. Since the storm, one had been sick in the hospital.

FEMA denied Inita’s application for relief. Although she lived on the ground floor, and many in her position had been flooded out, the agency said, inexplicably, that it had found no evidence of flooding.

Fortunately for Inita, she is not alone in this. During a high profile photo-op at the public housing complex the previous day, Inita was visited by Bobby Kennedy and a State Senator whose name she couldn’t remember. But he gave her his business card and said he’d look into the FEMA issue.

In spite of everything, still she’s one of the lucky ones.

Jordan Fletcher is a journalist and an attorney. He is a Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. He writes for The Globe and Mail and the Dallas Morning News.