Millions register for FEMA assistance across Central Florida after Irma

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Two million people registered for FEMA assistance in Florida, and many residents said the process is frustrating.

 

FEMA officials told Channel 9 reporter Angela Jacobs that the agency has never seen such a great need for assistance.

 

FEMA said it's spread out, but not spread thin, and officials want to make sure people get the help they need.

 

Related: Residents report trouble getting through on FEMA hotline 

 

Even though Hurricane Irma happened more than three weeks ago, the rainy days are still causing problems for some residents in Brevard County.

 

With this more rain coming in, it's (the roof) still leaking,” said homeowner Terri Johnston. “I have to try to get up on the roof and knock off any excess water that's collected at least every two days.”

 

Johnston said she registered with FEMA two days after the storm, but some mistakes with the paperwork stalled the process.

 

"Yesterday I called. I was on the phone for two hours. The system was down,” she said.

 

FEMA representative Peter Sessums said residents can avoid bogged-down phone lines by calling early or late in the day, but the quickest way to help is through the FEMA app or in person at a disaster recovery center.

 

“We need to make sure these people don't slip through the cracks,” said Sessum.

At the centers, representatives can access files, complete registrations, and provide additional resources such as loans, counseling and legal assistance.

 

“Also, they can find out about entitlements they were not even aware of,” Sessum said.

 

Operation Blue Roof, United Way's 211 system and crisis-cleanup.org are agencies and nonprofits across Central Florida, offering help or direction while people wait for answers from FEMA.

 

“I'm not the only person going through this. There's a list of others,” Johnston said.

 

FEMA said anyone told that they were ineligible for benefits should appeal their registration, because it could simply be missing one piece of information that makes the registration incomplete.

 

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