Oklahoma Tornado Victim’s Family Frustrated with Insurance, FEMA

March 23, 2009

Family members of an Oklahoma teen survivor of a tornado that killed her parents and six other people now are trying to handle the ensuing paperwork that comes from dealing with government agencies and insurance companies.

Kaylee Fambrough, 13, now lives with her 27-year-old half-sister, Danna McCord, and McCord’s husband and three children. Kaylee said she thinks about the Feb. 10 tornado that killed her parents, Gail and Vincent Fambrough, “100 times a day.”

“The wind picked up strong,” she said. “I got scared and got out of the bathtub. I was completely naked, and Mom told me to put a towel or robe on and to stay away from all the doors and windows. But I was scared, and I ran into her arms for that moment I’ll always remember.

“Then I heard a great crash against the house.”

She said that when she opened her eyes, she was in a field of debris about 300 feet from the family’s trailer home.

“I was scared to death,” she said. “My mother was no longer in my arms.”

When she found her father’s body, she said she figured her mother also had been killed.

McCord, who is Gail Fambrough’s daughter, said she has not had time to grieve in part because of dealing with Kaylee’s legal paperwork, which includes dealings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, her mother’s life insurance company, a funeral home and a family attorney.

McCord said it initially was thought that Kaylee qualified for more than $36,000 from a FEMA program to help pay for funeral expenses, loss of property and replacement housing. McCord planned to put the money into a trust for Kaylee.

“FEMA called and asked us to return the check,” McCord said. “They told us Kaylee was owed more money. So we sent the check back like they asked. Then they sent us a check for $6,000 and told us that’s all Kaylee was getting. We were told she didn’t qualify for any housing because she wasn’t 18. So because she isn’t 18, she isn’t entitled to money for the home she lost?

“It was her home, too.”

McCord said she had never intended to ask for help from FEMA, but did so because friends told them the federal agency could help.

“Now I wish we never had,” she said. “That’s not right what they did to Kaylee.”

McCord said the insurance agency also has been difficult to deal with, leading her to ask the attorney for help.

“It’s getting harder to trust people,” she said.


Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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