Since the day after the remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the New York area, my staff and I have traveled across our congressional district to survey the damage, and talk with constituents and small businesses that have been impacted by the rainfall and flooding.

The destruction that the storm caused in our borough has been devastating. Queens, and our district in particular, was among the hardest hit spots in the region. Lives have been turned upside down, and people and businesses remain overwhelmed by the damage that resulted from flooding.

I believe that the federal government must be there to support those who need help, and assist people with getting back on their feet again.

In Congress, I called for President Biden to approve emergency and major disaster declarations, and I’m grateful that he did. I was with him when he recently came to Queens to see the damage firsthand, and Governor Hochul, FEMA Administrator Criswell and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas came to our district to view the devastation as well.

The disaster declarations allowed federal assistance to flow to individuals and businesses that have been affected, and I’m leading an effort to secure even more funding to ensure that New York receives the highest amount of disaster aid possible.

I also secured a disaster recovery center for our borough, located at Queens College. This facility continues to be an important resource for assisting with relief.

Recently, I have gotten inquiries from constituents about low payouts that they have received, and some whose claims have been rejected. This is unacceptable and I and my New York colleague Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who has also heard from affected residents in her district, have sent a letter to FEMA demanding answers about why this is occurring, and stressing the need for the agency to remedy the situation. We are also seeking to have FEMA make payouts that are more in line with the cost of living in our region.

All those who have been impacted by Ida deserve to get every dollar that they are entitled to receive. If you received a low payout or rejection, I encourage you to appeal the decision.

You have 60 days to send FEMA your appeal and it must include the required evidence. Please contact my office at 718-358-MENG or ny06casework@mail.house.gov to receive the full list of the agency’s protocols for appealing.

In some cases, claims may not have all the needed details; they might be missing certain information or not showing adequate proof or documentation related to damage. Some may also include ineligible items.

In addition to contacting my office for the information, you can also call FEMA at 800-621-3362. Lines are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

FEMA continues to note its assistance is not a substitute for insurance and is unable to compensate for all losses caused by a disaster; that aid is intended to meet basic needs and supplement disaster recovery efforts.

If you have been affected by Ida and have not applied for FEMA assistance, you can still do so by visiting DisasterAssistance.gov. The deadline to apply is Monday, December 6.