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'I need to be home': Cape Coral homeowner one step closer to getting FEMA trailer

Homeowner got property inspected for trailer, though no timeline to receive it is known
Fema trailer
Posted at 5:31 PM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 18:36:44-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Many are turning to FEMA travel trailers after Hurricane Ian damaged or destroyed their home. One Cape Coral woman is close to getting one, but says she has no idea when it'll come.

"I lived there for 24 years — never had the water come over the canal," said Heidi Zielinski, holding back tears. "It's hard losing everything."

She works and lives in a friend's home. They're snowbirds and will be coming back soon.

"I'm lucky I had somewhere to go," Zielinski said.

The Cape Coral homeowner applied for FEMA help the day after the storm. That's also when she filed her insurance claims — both homeowners and flood.

"I did apply for FEMA. I was denied because I had homeowners insurance," she said.

She got that decision on October 13. FEMA said in a letter it's because she has flood and homeowners insurance, which covers damages. However, the FEMA flood insurance program doesn't cover living expenses.

"They needed the homeowners policy saying they are not covering living expenses," Zielinski said.

She sent that off to FEMA and got approved for housing. However, she said it took an e-mail to Sen. Rick Scott's office to get that done.

A media relations specialist for FEMA said a person's delay for a trailer could come back to your insurance company not providing documents, responding to your claim or other roadblocks.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Families in southwest Florida still waiting for FEMA trailers

"We’ll send the inspector out to the property to take a look at it and document all that information and determine whether their property is eligible for that type of unit," said Renee Bafalis with FEMA.

That happened to Zielinski on Monday. They measured out everything and said there's no problem with putting a trailer on her property.

However, Zielinski ran into a problem.

"I said when am I getting a trailer? He said I don’t know, I’m only contractor for FEMA," she said. "I need to be home. I work from home."

She looked at her online account and called FEMA, but has not received a date. Zielinski says the contractor told her connecting the electricity, which would come from a separate line, is causing the delay with trailers.

However, Fox 4 reached out to LCEC. A spokesperson said they have not received any applications to connect electricity to a FEMA trailer and none have been connected as of Tuesday evening.

LCEC said they did meet with FEMA electricians on Monday to provide an option to streamline the connection process.

Zielinski has no choose but to wait for a trailer. Her house is gutted and it's not habitable right now.

"My dog wants to be home. My dog wants a yard to run in," she said.

FEMA has not confirmed how many families are in trailers in Lee County. They could only say they're in the six hardest hit counties.