It has been nearly 7 years since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the U.S., leaving utter destruction in its wake. Those affected by the merciless storm have been laboring to recover since, but staggering debt has made recovery a lengthy process. Though some progress has been made in the past several years, victims still owe a total of $385 million to insurance companies and government agencies like FEMA. Ironically, the money was awarded to Katrina victims as the result of error on FEMA’s part. The agency had plans to recover this money, but now has announced that Katrina victims may qualify for waivers that will erase their debt.
Last year, the agency sent out notices to several thousand victims informing them that they must return money they received for disaster relief. These letters sparked outrage amongst victims and brought harsh criticisms toward FEMA from government officials and even insurance companies. Now the agency plans to send out 90,000 letters informing victims that they could be eligible to receive waiver that would absolve their debt.
Victims are eligible to receive a waiver if they make less than $90,000 annually. This is good news for most of the people that suffered loss in the wake of Katrina, as many of them were already considered to be parts of the low-income community. FEMA has acknowledged that the money rewarded to some victims was the result of error and will not be pursuing the recovery of these funds from those receiving waivers.