Monday, September 12, 2005.
Today we're going to try to get some of the financial assistance that we've got coming to us. The Red Cross has set up a hotline for financial assistance (1-800-975-7585). I tried all last night, and got the, "Please call back." message. I got through after about an hour of trying this morning, but now I've been on hold for 38 minutes...43...52...57...1:07...1:25...1:35...1:57...2:12...2:20... OK, enough.
We're going to go stand in line for food stamps now. Gads! I never thought I'd say that...
AH! After I posted that last bit, I went upstairs and got dressed. I left the phone on SPEAKER and got ready to go. After 2 hours and 35 minutes, a lady named Barbara Stuart answered the phone and introduced herself. It was quite obvious that she had never done this before, and had some trouble reading from the little script. The very first thing she did was take my phone number so that she could call me back if we were disconnected.
Then she proceeded to as me if my home had been affected by Hurricane Katrina, and I answered, "Yes." Then she asked me for my address. "My home address, or the address where I am now?"
"The address where you are now."
So, I gave her the address here in Sugar Land where I am living as a refugee. She took the information very carefully, and was writing it down. I know she was writing it down because she said, "OK, please hold on while I type it into the computer."
2:52... She comes back on the line and says, "I'm having trouble with my computer. Can you continue to hold?"
2:57... She comes back and says, "I can't pull that up. Can you give me your address again?"
"Do you want my home that was affected by the hurricane, or do you want my current address?"
"The address of the home affected by the hurricane."
OH. Well, OK. I gave it to her.
She took all my information again. Name, SSN, etc. Very carefully. "OK. Hold on while I type it in."
3:10... She comes back and now she has someone whispering over her shoulder. She takes all my information AGAIN, and this time types it in as she goes. Then she says, "OK. Now what is the number of the employer before the present disaster?"
"What number do you need? A phone number? An employer number? I don't understand the question."
"Hold on, please..."
3:19... "Shane? OK. Tell me about the damage to your home. How much water did you have inside?"
"Well, that's kind of a hard question to answer. We're still under an evacuation order."
"Hello? Hello? CLICK"
She hung up on me.
Never called back.
I know these people are volunteers, and I know they're doing the best they can, but it would be really nice if they were at least competent.
After this we went out to get food stamps. We got to the place and I asked a man at a table, "Where is the line for food stamps?"
He says, "You are the line. Fill out this form, and take it over there."
So, I did. They sorted us out and we were done in 10 minutes.
I was given a card, and told to call the number on the card to activate it in 3 days. After that, I needed to pick a pin, and the card will work at any store. Very cool. These Texans REALLY have their stuff together.
"What do I do for three days to feed my family?" While we're not starving, I just wanted to know the answer.
The answer? "Contact the American Red Cross."
As I've typed this, I am on hold with the American Red Cross again. 30 minutes so far...
Andrea called our mortgage company and they decided to help us out. They've suspended payments for 90 days. After that, we have to pay the 90 days worth of payments in a lump sum.
I'm not exactly sure how that helps...
Now I have to come up with 3,600 dollars in order to keep my house by November 30? Thanks. Thanks a lot.
I'm ready to spray paint, "THANKS FOR NOTHING" on my roof when I get home.
Still on hold. 46 minutes... The recording said my wait time was 10 minutes...
58 Minutes...2 hours, 10 minutes...11 minutes...and...Amy came on the line. Amy is very good. She asked me easy questions directly, took my driver's license number, and in exactly 14 minutes, she gave me the information I needed to pick up my relief at any Western Union location. Easy as pie.
So, the American Red Cross gets a pass.
We'll see if FEMA comes through...
Well, I'm off for the night. I'm going back in to Jefferson tomorrow to patch my roof. I'll probably spend two nights. I expect to have power and internet now, so I'll try to post updates here.
It seems that the NRA finally responded to the gun grabs in New Orleans.
I liked this part: ""The NRA will not stand idly by while guns are confiscated from law-abiding people who’re trying to defend themselves," he said."
Gee, that's pretty much all they've done so far. I mean, how many of these gun grabs has the NRA managed to actually stop? Hmmm...