Special Coverage

  • Read more on Sandy’s Aftermath

If you're home has been damaged or destroyed by a super-storm, it's nice to get a check from the federal goverment to help you rebuild, or help you find a temporary home. What's not so nice is to get a letter a couple years later demanding that you give the money back. But that's what's happening to thousands of homeowners in New York and New Jersey.

The government is not charging fraud, or any other misbehavior — FEMA says the overpayments were the result of honest mistakes. And it appears that the recipients were legitimate victims of the storm. So New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone say the government should let the matter slide.

The South Jersey Courier-Post has the story (see: "Politicians vow to block FEMA from taking mistaken Sandy aid," by Wayne Parry). Said Senator Menendez, ""Disaster victims should never have to pay for someone else's mistake. These families have suffered enough, are barely holding on financially and emotionally, and can't afford to pay back money they thought all along was rightfully theirs to use towards their recovery."

Said Pallone: "Homeowners still struggling to rebuild from the devastation of Sandy should not be forced to repay grants that were awarded because of honest mistakes. While I understand the importance of reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in the system, the efforts to do so should not be made on the back end of this process in a way that punishes disaster victims with an unaffordable bill."