Hurricane Dolly Victims Receive FEMA Assistance 10 Years Later
MISSION – Those hit hard by Hurricane Dolly in 2008 are receiving disaster relief from FEMA.
The Rio Grande Valley victims of Hurricane Dolly didn't just weather the storm. They said the road to recovery involved weathering nearly a decade-long court battle.
Maria Garcia tells us it is the screams of her children she remembers clearly.
"They were traumatized," says Garcia.
In 2008, Hurricane Dolly hit her home. She says the wall fell in and she along with her children held it up through the storm.
"It felt like it lasted forever," she says. "I don't know how long it lasted. We were fighting against the wind and rain."
With no insurance, Garcia turned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help. She says FEMA turned her down.
A decade later, children grown, she shows us she is still making repairs.
Her story is echoed by 23 other victims from the Valley. They spent 10 long years holding on to hope.
On Friday, aid came in from FEMA. The agency lost an 8-year legal battle against La Union Del Pueblo Entero and the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid who represented the families.
"This lawsuit put FEMA on notice," says TRLA Attorney Tracy Figueroa. She says FEMA refused to provide aid in 2008 to these families because agents claimed the poor conditions of their homes prior to the storm freed FEMA from responsibility.
A judge in a U.S. Federal Court in Brownsville found otherwise.
"I'm hoping this lawsuit helps the government to see there are different standards for different areas," LUPE representative Martha Sanchez comments.
"It's just justice. We deserve that money. The government has money for disasters and we deserve it," Hurricane Dolly victim, Sara Garcia says.
Maria Garcia returned to her embattled home, with an $11,538 check in hand.
"It's very depressing to see how her house ended up but now we know that the Union sued. That gives me more strength, to have a victory in this lawsuit against FEMA," says Garcia. “I'm very, very grateful, with all my heart.”
Garcia says this New Year brought her a chance to finally put a new roof over her family's head.
The attorney with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid says this is not the only lawsuit out of the region that they're fighting against FEMA.
She says another case stemming from the flooding in 2015 and 2016 is currently in Washington D.C.