Incorrect Address Delays Valley Woman’s FEMA Funds

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GRANJENO – Irene Olivarez is a Valley High School culinary arts instructor. Few things bring her as much joy as preparing tomorrow's chefs.

"They come to me with 'I don't know how to cook,' and by the end of the year they're creating dishes they didn't think they would ever be able to," said Olivarez.

Olivarez has a sense of normalcy now. It took a while to recover following the straight-line winds disaster in Granjeno in 2016. Like many people who live in Granjeno, she experienced the damage firsthand.

"All I could hear were noises and things banging on the house and things breaking," said Olivarez.

Her house suffered severe damage. She needed significant roof and ceiling repairs. She looked to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance, but was surprised when she learned her funds would be delayed.

"I encountered problems when I went to get the paper work because the address was incorrect," said Olivarez.

The proof of address she requested from the Hidalgo County Appraisal District was incorrect. It was off by a single number.

According to the Appraisal District's records, she still lived at her parents’ house across the street. She waited months to finally receive assistance from FEMA.

"Meanwhile, we're worried about if another storm is going to come in, or my roof is messed up," said Olivarez.

Hidalgo CAD relies on property owners to keep them updated on address changes.

"The addresses that we have in our system are addresses that we have acquired somehow from the owner of the property," said Jorge Gonzalez, Assistant Chief of the Hidalgo County Appraisal District.

Gonzalez tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS a change from rural route boxes to incorporated addresses could have been the reason for the mishap.

"Maybe in some rural towns we might not have had all of that information, or the accuracy of that number," said Gonzalez. "And that could have been a time that, that might have happened."

"It was very stressful," said Olivarez. "It took a long time! There were a lot of problems."

Olivarez eventually got the repairs she needed. FEMA covered a portion of her expenses.

Anyone who may concerned if their address is correct can check online or visiting the Hidalgo CAD in person.

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