Queens senator moves to get FEMA aid to East Elmhurst residents who have yet to receive assistance after Hurricane Ida

Senator Chuch Schumer and New York State Senator Jessica Ramos discussed FEMA aid for Queens residents following Hurricane Ida, during a visit in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7. (Photo credit: @JessicaRamos/Twitter)

State Senator Jessica Ramos met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week to follow up on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) claims made by East Elmhurst residents impacted by Hurricane Ida.  

Last month, Hurricane Ida took the lives of about 10 people in Queens alone, and left many homes completely destroyed. Some residents who filed FEMA claims right after the storm are still awaiting support.

“It was extremely meaningful for President Biden to immediately visit my district, but some of the people who live in the exact homes he walked by on his tour are still waiting on FEMA a month later,” Ramos said. “While we continue to work on infrastructural changes on the city and state level, I’m coming to D.C. to follow up and ensure we deliver real relief.”

One resident, Saida Majidi, lives on 82nd Street near Astoria Boulevard in East Elmhurst. Majidi lives with her husband, two kids and her mother, who she cares for. However, she was alone the night the storm came. 

Majidi said about six or seven feet of water came in like waves.

“My mother’s medical equipment— completely gone,” Majidi said. “Everything’s gone.”

A few days after the storm, President Joe Biden and other elected officials came to visit and survey the damage. 

“I felt a little bit relieved,” Majidi said. “They said we would be all right and they’d help.”

Majidi filled out a FEMA application in September. Over a month later, Majidi has not received any assistance even though she said FEMA representatives came to survey her property damage already.

Majidi and her family have been without hot water since early September. 

“My mother is 71. I don’t have hot water. My kids go to friends’ houses for showers,” Majidi said. “Winter is already coming. Should I send my mom somewhere? She doesn’t want to go to a shelter, but the house is going to be freezing cold. I have everything documented. Why do I have to suffer like this? Why am I excluded from help?”

According to a representative from Ramos’ office, the meeting with Schumer and FEMA was productive. 

“Following her visit, representatives from FEMA were in Queens as quickly as Monday, canvassing the neighborhood and calling members of the community who needed follow-up on outstanding claims,” said the statement.

Majidi said she has not heard from FEMA since Ramos’ meeting. 

Maynel Morena Jr. lives on 88th Street and 24th Avenue in East Elmhurst and has also not received any FEMA assistance. Morena Jr. said that he usually expects a few inches of rain during storms, but Hurricane Ida was different.

“This time around, water accumulated a lot faster than we ever expected. In under an hour, we had about five feet of water in the basement,” Morena Jr. said. “Anything and everything that you can think of was underwater.”

Hurricane Ida’s remnants brought a record-setting 3 inches of rain in one hour in Central Park, surpassing another record of 1.94 inches of rainfall in one hour during Tropical Storm Henri in August.

Morena Jr. said that some of his neighbors have heard back from FEMA this week, but are still feeling left out of much-needed relief.

Michael Wade, the assistant external affairs officer at FEMA said that each household is different and that’s why it is taking longer to process claims and get out relief aid.

“The best thing I can tell them to do is reach out to our 800 number or go to one of our disaster recovery centers that are throughout the counties where they can sit down and talk to somebody about what’s going on,” Wade said.

FEMA can be reached at 800-621-3362, and a recovery site is located at Queens College in Flushing.