WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today applauded Secretary Tim Geithner and his team at the Department of the Treasury for their swift and sensible response to relieve the Guglielmana family from repaying disaster assistance money that FEMA erroneously distributed to them three years ago. In response to the Treasury’s action, Pryor has lifted his holds on Treasury Department nominees allowing them to advance through the Senate confirmation process.
“This family did everything by the book when applying for disaster assistance, and then FEMA comes back to them, years later, with demand letters for immediate repayment. For months we’ve been working with FEMA to find a reasonable solution and moving legislation through the system to help. But when FEMA sent the family’s bill to Treasury for collections, it was the last straw,” Pryor said. “In the end, the Treasury Department stepped up with a can-do approach to right this situation, and I appreciate their swift and sensible solution.”
The Guglielmana family of Mountain View, Arkansas are victims of a FEMA error. In 2008, after completing an extensive application process and home inspection, FEMA approved $27,000 in disaster assistance for their home repairs. In March 2011, FEMA informed them that they were never eligible for assistance because they live in a county that does not participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA warned that they must repay the funds within 30 days or face high interest charges or other collection actions. After failing to pay, FEMA sent the debt to the Department of the Treasury for collections. An additional $10,000 was added for penalties, fees and interest.