Couple Continues to Wait for Flood Assistance

MEHOOPANY — Pete and Sharon Morgan have lived in their home in Mehoopany township since 1998.

The couple said their lives and home underwent a drastic change after the floods of 2011.

“Frightening. Every time it rains we just look outside and we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Pete Morgan.

Back in 2011, the flood waters came up about 5 and a half feet in the Morgan’s basement.

Now, three years later the couple is still waiting for the flood money they believe they deserve.

“There has been times throughout the three years that we were told we were close, it was going to happen, it’s going to happen and still nothing happened,” said Pete Morgan.

The Morgan’s are one of five homeowners in the County waiting for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program, or a buy out of their home, to kick in.

Local and federal officials said those homeowners might not see that money any time soon.

“The issue with the home is obviously they have gas leases and FEMA is requiring a clear title with these gas leases,” said Gene Dziak, Wyoming County Emergency Management Director.

In May, FEMA added a new policy banning assistance to properties that could eventually be hosts for gas companies.

However, the Morgans and four other homeowners in Wyoming County had entered their gas leases prior to the policy change.

“If there was a flood tomorrow and there were gas leases involved, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. This policy is in place. The point of tomorrow verses today is that you changed the rules in the middle of the game – not fair,” said Dziak.

In 2011, the Morgan’s signed a $1,400 gas lease with Chief Oil & Gas.

They said it was a one time payment.

The Wyoming County officials say the hold up seems to be one issue: who would take over the gas lease on these properties if FEMA bought them out?

So far, no one has that answer.

“We’re going to keep moving forward. We’re going to keep pushing this rock as hard as we can and hopefully we’ll get good results,” said Dziak.

Newswatch 16 reached out to FEMA to see what it had to say about the policy change.

The agency said there are studies on the new policy being conducted by other agencies and FEMA is awaiting those results.

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