Mary Pat Van Tino is 67 years old. When Hurricane Katrina struck, she was living in her house in Orleans Parish. Her house has been severely damaged, the roof is gone, there is water damage everywhere and rooms have been sealed off. Mold, which is especially detrimental and dangerous to Ms. Van Tino as a result of her emphysema, has developed. Since she had no money, she had no choice other than to take shelter in what remains of her house. Although she stayed in her house during the hurricane, Ms. Van Tino was forced to leave upon the breach of the levees, at which time she evacuated to California. In California, she was able to stay with various friends, but each only for a few days at a time. On September 1, 2005, Ms. Van Tino started calling FEMA. It took her a week, calling at all times, including the middle of the night, before she was able to reach a FEMA worker. Although the system said to “press 1” for English, the FEMA worker she talked to barely spoke English. Before returning to New Orleans, Ms. Van Tino tried to access her FEMA application on-line. She first tried to get on using a Macintosh computer. Upon learning that the system did not permit access through a Macintosh, Ms. Van Tino, who has a Masters Degree, tried to get on by using a PC. Unable to access the information, she went to a series of friends, including a computer expert, but all of their efforts failed. After eight weeks of moving from house to house and living off the generosity of others, Ms. Van Tino, decided to return to New Orleans. When she went to the DRC in New Orleans, she learned that the FEMA worker with whom she previously had spoken on the phone had entered her information incorrectly. She was told that she could make the changes and appeal, a process that would take at least a month, but that FEMA had no more money and so she would receive no assistance.
(From Part III of the Complaint.)