Hurricane Ike has created a steady flow of evacuees and local residents to the Houston office.
September 29, 2008: As the wreckage left by Ike is sorted and people look for whatever assistance they can find to rebuild, the BPSOS-Houston office continues to serve the community. Staff attorney An-Phong Vo reports on last week’s efforts:
Thursday – We served 96 families today. Among the families was Bac Thanh’s; he and his wife are 133 years of age, combined. While completing his disaster assistance application, he cautioned me to be very careful when I’m out and about carrying a purse.
What’s extraordinary about his advice is that he was hospitalized during Ike because two men had beaten him to the point of unconsciousness and kicked his wife to the ground just so they could steal his wife’s purse in a leisurely fashion. It was the day before Ike made landfall. Bac Thanh and his wife had taken the bus home from work and were walking home from the bus stop, when the two men came charging at him and his wife, at a mere 200 feet away from his house. Bac Thanh has resumed work and his wife no longer carries a purse. I hope those two men will soon be apprehended and brought to justice.
Friday – Nick Ho, FEMA’s community relations specialist, came to our office today to answer the questions of clients and staff alike. He dispelled the myth that FEMA would send a $2,000 check to any family that lost electricity for over 5 days. He explained the application process and encouraged individuals to go to a DRC (disaster recovery center) if they have specific questions about their applications or to turn in documents requested. He pointed out that if a Small Business Administration (SBA) application form is included in the FEMA package, then it should be completed and submitted, regardless of intentions of obtaining an SBA loan, otherwise the application will be set aside. He reminded homeowners and renters alike to contact their insurance companies to report damage to their homes and/or personal property. To eligible applicants, FEMA will provide assistance up to $28,800 per household, and SBA disaster loans are up to $200,000 and $2 million to home owners and businesses/nonprofits, respectively, for 30 years.