FEMA demands Superstorm Sandy victims give money back

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7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has the story of one man fighting with FEMA over government aid. (WABC)

In the last two years, 7 On Your Side has helped flood-ravaged residents get more than $1 million back. But now, one man's problem is a story that is affecting hundreds of homeowners -- FEMA providing aid to Sandy victims but now saying "OUR BAD," we want it back.

Eddie Schaefer has truly weathered the storm. The retired NYPD officer battled cancer at the same time as Sandy, living in his Island Park cape with no heat for months. But now, he says FEMA has given him one last punch in the gut that he just can't stomach.

"You think you're passed everything, and then they hit you with this," he said.

"This" is a terse letter from FEMA ordering him to return more than $13,000 in grant money they initially gave him to rebuild after the storm.

Two years ago, Eddie chronicled the disgusting storm surge with his cell phone camera. He snapped away as raw sewage submerged his finished basement, which he says filled up in just four and a half minutes.

Following the storm, the basement had to be gutted. Everything from the sheet rock to the washer and dryer to the boiler had to be replaced.

The total bill was more than $100,000, and all he received was a $13,000 FEMA grant on top of $22,000 from flood insurance.

"It got eaten up pretty quick," he said.

But now, FEMA is saying that Eddie was NOT eligible for the grant, since he already got flood insurance money.

He says he was never made aware of the clause, and a FEMA rep even noted on his application that he had flood insurance.

The single dad is struggling on a fixed income, with his savings depleted after paying largely out-of-pocket to get his home habitable. It's amazing that he can still smile.

After our calls to FEMA, he got a call back. Right now, he's appealing their decision, hoping at best they'll forgive the debt altogether. At worst, he's hoping they'll allow him to pay off a little at a time. He will hear back in about 90 days.

We'll let you know how he does.

Related Topics:
weather7 On Your Sidesuperstorm sandyFEMA
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