Family faces homelessness in Hurricane Michael’s aftermath

The family was spending the night in a tent

Family could be homeless as Hurricane Michael funds run out

BAY COUNTY, FL (WJHG/WECP/Gray News) – Six months after Hurricane Michael tore into the Florida panhandle, uncertainty is a fact of life for many who still call it home.

But for Martha Bartlett and her family, there’s nowhere to call home.

“It got destroyed,” the 54-year-old said. “A big tree fell on it and had flooded, and black mold was in it."

On Monday afternoon, the family’s belongings sat on the side of the road in Panama City.

Up until this point, they had managed to pay for hotel rooms with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but those funds have run out.

Bartlett applied for an extension through FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, but she said they didn’t get one.

It puts the family in a bind. They don’t have enough money to pay for a place to stay until their new home is ready in two weeks.

Bartlett is a diabetic and takes insulin, which needs to be refrigerated. She takes other medicines too.

"If I'm on the streets, I'm not going to have a real way to keep my insulin cool, my medicine fresh,” Bartlett said. “I just really need some help.”

Two weeks can be a long time when you don't know where you're going to stay.

FEMA said it’s been working closely with the community in the aftermath of the Category 5 storm.

Over the past several weeks, FEMA staff have met with disaster survivors face to face to assess their situations, identify unmet needs, and assist them in developing transition plans to longer-term housing. Additionally, FEMA brought in specialists from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to meet with survivors at their hotels and help them create their permanent housing plans if they have not already done so.

As of late Monday afternoon, Bartlett’s family said they planned on spending the night in a tent. They said FEMA had reached out to them.

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