A year later, some Houstonians are still fighting FEMA for disaster funds

Hurricane Harvey
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HOUSTON — A year ago, one Houston couple and their five children were navigating Harvey flood waters.

Now, Jennifer McKnight is still navigating, but through a different kind of maze, dealing with FEMA and lots of government red tape!

The McKnight family first moved to Houston after Hurricane Katrina's flood waters ravaged New Orleans, yet they believed their new home couldn't possibly flood.

Nine years later, Harvey changed that.

"And the end result would be essentially the same thing that happened to us in Katrina," McKnight told NewsFix.

But one thing from Katrina came in very handy here.

"My FEMA paperwork from Katrina," McKnight recalled. "And so I've saved that because I flipped back through it and was like, 'oh! This is coming back. This is going to be very helpful.'"

She says her house took in about 18 inches of flood waters as a nearby flooded bayou kept rising until it rushed into her home.

"The water started coming in through the back doors first, which makes sense since the bayou's behind me," she revealed.

The water was even covering her electrical outlets, basically destroying everything in its path.

"The water wasn't rain water. There's a sewage plant on the bayou that ended up flooding and so we were really wading and walking through sewage," McKnight explained.

Once flooded, she says the sewage sat in her home for an entire week before they were able to pump it all out.

As with so many flooded Houstonians, Harvey caught everyone off guard not because the McKnights weren't prepared for a bad storm, but because live in an area that had never flooded.

But flood waters six feet deep ravaged the entire neighborhood!

"All the cars parked on the street ended up under water, and the boats that were rescuing people ended up...their propellers would hit the roofs of the SUVs," McKnight described.

Today, she's helping fellow families and neighbors after their FEMA money runs out because this isn't her first rodeo.

"I knew how to navigate FEMA," McKnight said. "And I knew how to navigate grants and what things meant-- and what the Stafford Act says."

When FEMA declined her neighbors, she knew what information could help save the day.

"Once it's a Federally declared disaster area, that income does not come to play into this, and there should be no discrimination based on income levels-- and that means high or low," McKnight insisted.

She even teamed up with her Congressman John Culberson to try to get FEMA appropriations properly handled.

It's a fight still going today.

"People are substantially, financially impacted— whether you have insurance or not," McKnight expressed. "It's really a very devastating experience."

But just like during the storm, neighbor helping neighbor, somehow they will get through it together.


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