Kissimmee man, 82, battles with FEMA after Hurricane Irma floods home

By: Field Sutton

Updated:

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - An 82-year-old Kissimmee man and his family are fighting with FEMA over the agency’s refusal to give aid to him and others who were flooded out of their homes at The Good Samaritan Village during Hurricane Irma.

When the water was high, Richard Howard’s spirits were low.

His family lives out of state and they felt like their hands were tied.

Photos: Flooding from Irma in Kissimmmee 55+ community

“I had nowhere else for him to stay, so he ended up having to come to Tennessee and be with me for the time being,” said his daughter, Diane Lawson.

Lawson said it was weeks before she realized her father’s place at the Good Samaritan community was in shambles.

Richard Howard’s home after Irma
© 2017 Cox Media Group.
Richard Howard’s home after Irma
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

“Good Samaritan said because of the fact that he lived right next door to a lift station, that not only was his home flooded, but it was Level 3 contamination with the sewage,” said Lawson.


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She was told FEMA would help but had no idea it would be an uphill battle against bureaucracy.

“When the second inspector got to the home, he called me on my phone and said, ‘I’m standing in front of the apartment. There’s yellow caution tape and stickers on the door saying, ‘No entry,’ I’m not going on,’” Lawson said.

Richard Howard’s home after Irma
© 2017 Cox Media Group.
Richard Howard’s home after Irma
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

Despite what inspectors saw and a letter from the living facility highlighting the “grossly unsanitary, unsafe living conditions,” Howard got a surprising letter from FEMA, saying he was ineligible for aid because his home is safe to occupy.

Channel 9 has been trying to contact FEMA about Howard's situation but has not heard back. 

Richard Howard’s home after Irma
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

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