CENTRAL- Flood survivor Thomas Maloy has jumped through all sorts of hoops trying to get federal aid. But it was the FEMA denial letter he received Tuesday that hit him like a bad joke.
"I've been going back and forth with FEMA and then I got this wonderful letter today," said Maloy. "It says we're ineligible for assistance because of 'blank'... no reason given."
Maloy's rejection notice literally read, "you are not eligible because:" with the rest of the letter left blank.
The Central homeowner has been trying for weeks to scrap together enough funds to level his foundation. The structure was pushed off its pylons during the flood, his family is now living in a travel trailer out front.
"I just want to get the house in a position that if I have to do the work myself, I can," said Maloy. He needs about $30,000 to get started.
FEMA has made no secret that aid denials will happen. Recently the agency has encouraged flood survivors to visit one of its Disaster Recovery Centers to speak with case workers in person.
After receiving the letter, Maloy visited a center next to Central's city hall. During a thirty minute meeting, he learned the blank denial letter was likely due to a computer glitch.
The case worker also told him how he could improve his chances of getting help.
"Now I'm finding out FEMA does accept pictures [of my house]. They have to be mailed in, I did not know that," said Maloy.
Tuesday's trip to the recovery center didn't change Maloy's opinion of federal aid. He still finds the process insanely bureaucratic and uncompassionate.
However, Maloy's story is not the only one these day. To date FEMA has awarded $688 million in aid to people just like him.
The agency stresses the importance of visiting Disaster Recovery Centers so flood survivors clearly understand the aid process.