Most importantly, the house is all hers: “I paid it off in a year and 10 months,” she said.
But when the Memorial Day tornadoes blew through Dayton, “the roof actually lifted up and broke over where that exhaust pipe is. That’s where it broke in half.”
Helgeson is on disability and didn’t have homeowner’s insurance, so she applied for help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get a new roof.
“My roof will not sustain a winter. If we get a bad winter, my roof will cave in,” she said.
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Through tears, Helgeson said FEMA denied her not once, but six times. She appealed every time.
“The only way FEMA said they could help me is if I’m homeless. I’m trying to defeat that purpose. I don’t want to be homeless,” she said.
As time has passed, the damaged roof has caused more problems in her living room and bedroom.
“The plaster fell completely down. So we plastered the top part,” she said.
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A FEMA representative, Leo Skinner, said the agency is not allowed to discuss individual cases, but said he would check on Helgeson’s appeals process.
In the meantime, Helgeson said she will file an appeal, for the seventh time. She also said she applied for an SBA loan, but was denied for that, too.
“I’m asking my government that I have supported to help,” she said.
Estimates to replace her roof were between $11,000 and $15,000, she said.