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FEMA Preparing to Demand Refund of Aid From 2005 Hurricane Victims

As the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season begins, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reviewing more than $600 million given to roughly 154,000 victims of...
June 1, 2011

As the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season begins, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reviewing more than $600 million given to roughly 154,000 victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and is poised to demand that some return money.

FEMA is working to determine how much money it overpaid or mistakenly awarded to victims of the destructive 2005 hurricane season. FEMA already has sent letters to thousands of victims of other disasters, asking them to return more than $22 million. Letters to victims of the 2005 hurricanes could go out in a matter of months, but it's too soon to tell how many people will be told to repay or how much money is at stake.

Paul Wegener, whose New Orleans home flooded up to the gutters after Katrina, felt short-changed when FEMA gave him a $30,000 grant for a house that wound up costing more than $566,000 to rebuild. The thought of having to return some of his federal aid prompts an angry reaction.

"They'll have to pry it from my dead hands if they try," the 75-year-old said.

Read more on FEMA's demand for refunds: FEMA Eyes Take-Back As Hurricane Season Looms (National Underwriter 6/1/11)