Denied Ike Victims Sue for Federal Help

HOUSTON (AP) _ People who say they were unfairly denied federal aid for housing assistance after Hurricane Ike have begun claiming in lawsuits that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has created a flawed inspection system.

They say that system withholds help to deserving families.

More than 730,000 families have registered with FEMA to receive money for home repairs, mobile homes or other housing services that became available after Hurricane Ike caused widespread damage in eptember.

The Houston Chronicle reports so far, FEMA has paid out about $371 million to 82,000 families, declaring almost 650,000 families ineligible for aid.

An attorney for an Orange homeowner challenging his FEMA assistance as insufficient said the wide gap between applicants and paid claims is caused in part by unqualified or poorly trained FEMA nspectors who decide whether to approve assistance.

FEMA officials acknowledged that inspectors sometimes make mistakes, and encouraged people who believe they were unfairly denied assistance to appeal.