FEMA offers help for Miami residents left displaced after Irma

MIAMI (WSVN) - After being forced to sleep in their cars for days, a group of Miami residents are finally getting some help after they were told they could not go home.

Dozens of residents have been living in the parking lot of their rent-assisted apartment complex in Miami for days waiting for answers.

“I feel bad, especially for the old people,” said resident Dayamis Maymir.

Civic Towers and Civic Towers Senior at Northwest 15th Avenue and 18th Street were closed for safety reasons by the city after sustaining damage in Hurricane Irma.

Residents were encouraged to go to shelters, but most waited at the building, hoping they would get back inside their homes soon.

Others said they stayed to be heard and to get what they feel they deserve: long term housing assistance.

Wednesday afternoon, building management claimed to have identified hotels for residents who sign up with FEMA.

FEMA representatives also showed up in person to make sure it happened.

“It’s unfortunate they didn’t get an answer right away,” said FEMA employee Ron Roth, “and that’s why we’re here to try and get those answers for them.”

Many survived the elements through donations from everyday people, local nonprofits and organizations like the American Red Cross.

“We have, obviously, now resources on the ground, but we continue to provide that much-needed help,” said Roberto Baltodano from the American Red Cross.

Government officials with the city and county provided food, water, showers, shade and buses for air conditioning.

The property owner, Redwood Housing, released a statement which reads in part: “We are in frequent contact with the government and are working diligently on a recovery plan. Our team has also reached out to each and every resident and has helped residents apply for emergency assistance from FEMA.”

Tuesday, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado called the situation unacceptable.

“The main blame is on the company that owns this building that is getting a lot — millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money so these people can have a decent life,” said Regalado.

City officials say they have reached out to those in charge of the building renovations and repairs to schedule a meeting to help move the process forward, but they have not heard back.

Multiple residents told 7News that they were told that they would not be able to get back into the building for at least eight months.

The law firm that represents the building owner told 7News that people living in 50 of the apartments will be moved to FEMA hotels on Wednesday night.

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