FEMA cancels debt for Belle Harbor seniors

By Sadef Ali Kully

The seniors at Belle Harbor Manor, an assisted-living facility in Rockaway, owed debt incurred after Hurricane Sandy, but their obligations have been canceled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The debts were incurred due to an administrative error associated with FEMA’s response to Hurricane Sandy victims and survivors in 2012.

“I would like to thank the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s considerate and timely cancellation of the debts of 30 residents at Belle Harbor Manor, many of whom are disabled senior citizens,” said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica). “The effort to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy is still ongoing in many communities across New York City. Actions, like these taken by [FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate], place healing our community first and help victims put the nightmare of Superstorm Sandy behind them forever.”

Last year, Meeks led a bipartisan effort that called upon Fugate to cancel these debts.

At that time, FEMA said 2 percent of Sandy survivors who received financial assistance were sent notices asking them to return the money because they had received funds they were not entitled to through fraud and accounting mistakes. The agency estimated the collective $23 million debt incurred represents about 2 percent of money dispensed in the wake of the hurricane.

“In order to prevent future victims of natural disasters from facing similar circumstances, I am working in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to draft legislation that would make sure that hardworking Americans are not victimized by the disaster response organized on their behalf,” Meeks said.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull‌y@cng‌local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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