March 9, 2021

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Mayor denounces that FEMA asks family to return $ 25,000 that it approved for their home


The mayor of Toa Alta, Clemente “Chito” Agosto, denounced today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, in English) asked a family from Guadalajara to return the money they approved to rebuild their home destroyed by Hurricane María, due to discrepancies in the documents that were delivered to validate the ownership of the land.

“After two years that FEMA awarded $ 25 thousand dollars to a head of the family from the Las Acerolas community to rebuild the home that María destroyed, she comes to tell her that she has to return the money because the documents are insufficient and she does not qualify for the help. Documents that the municipality granted to the family so that they could, precisely, qualify for the claim. It is incredible that FEMA wants the money to be returned when that money was invested in its entirety in the reconstruction of the house, ”explained the mayor in written statements.

Agosto explained that as part of the FEMA qualification process, the residents of the Las Acerolas community had to provide a document that validated that they had a structure on a piece of land that belongs to the municipality.

The mayor fears that the case of Yailis Vergara, who is a mother of three children, will be repeated in this and other communities of Toa Alta, since the discrepancy would be due to the same document that the family provided.

Letter sent by FEMA to Yailis Vergara.
Letter sent by FEMA to Yailis Vergara.

“Within the paperwork that FEMA was asking for to qualify, they asked for a document that validated that the municipality allowed families to have a structure on those lands. As mayor, I validated the information of this and other families and they were given the document so that FEMA could process and approve the claims to rebuild the houses that Maria destroyed. Yailis’ case is the first we came across, but will FEMA ask all Las Acerolas residents to return the money that was approved for them? If this is the case, it is very worrying and more when the families complied with what FEMA itself established ”, explained Agosto.

“I am greatly concerned that what happened to Yailis will happen to other families in Towel. The municipality validated and granted hundreds of families the same document for which today FEMA requests the return of the money. If the discrepancy is that role, then this could happen to more families. FEMA has already contacted Yailis’s employer to freeze the salary in order to recover the money, how is it possible that FEMA wants to freeze the salary of a head of the family to recover money that they themselves approved because the requirements were met? ”He questioned.

Finally, Agosto required FEMA to reevaluate Yailis’s case and find a solution as soon as possible.



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