Updated 12/06/2012 06:10 PM
NY1 Exclusive: SI Man Says FEMA Representative Discriminated Against Him, Reported False Information
One Staten Island man is receiving thousands more than he originally thought after it was discovered the FEMA volunteer who assessed his house reported false information because of what he said was discrimination. NY1's Aaron Dickens has the exclusive story.
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Eddie Saman felt a lot better Thursday morning after a letter from FEMA showed up. It said he'll be getting more than $30,000 to help repair his seriously damaged home.
But he said it took a fight with the agency to get that money.
"I was relieved from all the stress I had from the discrimination," he said.
Saman said the FEMA representative who came to assess the damage to his home the day before Thanksgiving asked about his background not just once, but over and over again.
"I told him that I am Middle Eastern," Saman said. "He said 'no I want the country.' I said no I am not going to tell you where I am from because I am an American citizen."
When Saman first heard from FEMA he was shocked. The agency said he would get just $7,000, in part because the representative reported no damage to his personal property.
In fact, just about everything Saman owned was destroyed in the storm.
Salvatore Barcia, a volunteer who's been speaking to FEMA on Saman's behalf, said he was told the rep also wrote down other incorrect information, like that he found four inches of water damage when the house had actually been under 9 feet of water.
"FEMA told me that the whole report was false," Barcia said. "They looked at his neighbors reports and it didn't go with the whole picture."
After several phone calls, including some from NY1, FEMA took another look at Saman's home.
FEMA then quadrupled what Saman was initially offered. Saman said FEMA should now re-visit every home that particular representative looked at.
"I would like FEMA to review whatever he did for other people because you never know," he said.
Saman said he's filed a discrimination complaint with FEMA.
The agency wouldn't comment on the complaint specifically -- they claimed it's a privacy issue.
But FEMA did say every employee takes an annual course on discrimination and it looks into every discrimination complaint it gets.