It was 2005, and I was living in New Orleans. My friend’s mom owned the house that some friends and I were renting. None of us had renter’s insurance, nor did any of us really think about buying it.
Then Katrina hit.
We lived in Broadmoor- one of the hardest hit areas of the city. Our house got 7 feet of water, and we had extensive roof damage.
I’d evacuated with my parents- and then when we saw how bad it was (all the damage). I went and stayed with a friend of mine who lived in Jackson, WY.
I just remember meeting my friend in the airport at the baggage claim. Grabbing my one suitcase.
He didn’t mean anything- but he asked, “That’s it?”
I said, “Yeah, this is everything I own.” Which, just hearing those words come out of my own mouth- that was a weird experience. A lot hit me in that moment.
The next few months were a blur of calling and going to FEMA centers, trying to get money to start replacing stuff I’d lost, and just… getting back to “normal”.
So FEMA- they gave everyone two thousand dollars right off the bat, so I got that from them.
But, there was so much fraud, and there was so much fear of fraud that they made it so hard for even people who legitimately lost everything to get any money.
You’d call one day and get one person who said that you should have a check coming. Then a week later when that didn’t arrive, you’d call back, and whoever you got on the phone that day, they’d say, “No, we need more paperwork.”
So you’d go to the FEMA Center and bring the paperwork. And it just went on and on in circles like that for months.
My breaking point was calling FEMA one day, and I got this woman who straight up accused me of fraud. She said that my lease looked “like you just got it from Office Depot.” “This isn’t real”- she kept saying.
I just broke down into tears. I’ll never forget it.
I told myself I needed to just give up, because I needed to find a way to move on.
But, not everybody was that lucky- not everybody could do that.
I won’t go without insurance again.
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