John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 18, 2012, 8:45am

HOUSTON - Alleging the Federal Emergency Management Agency is trying to get her to pay back money she does not owe, Amelia Colvin has filed a lawsuit.

FEMA claims Colvin must repay $18,824.77 in assistance payments provided for property in Freeport after Hurricane Ike. FEMA says there is "a lack of evidence to verify occupancy and primary residence."

However, the plaintiff insists FEMA's debt collection efforts are overtly arbitrary and capricious, recent court documents filed Sept. 14 in Houston federal court say.

The defendant first notified Colvin about the money in question on Aug. 2, 2011, after which she "strictly adhered" to an appeal process.

"Despite FEMA’s stated policy of responding to appeals within 30 days, the plaintiff never received a response," the suit says.

Colvin further shows she wrote the agency a second letter dated last March 15 requesting a hearing pursuant to its revised procedures under the "FEMA debt resolution process," but was not provided a hearing.

She adds the Texas Health and Human Services Commission notified her through writing in June that "our program is not seeking recoupment of the funds since you have provided documentation showing the funds have been used for medical purposes related to the injury you sustained during Hurricane Ike," however, FEMA continues to demand payment.

Attorney Gary M. Riebschlager with Brent Coon & Associates in Houston is representing the plaintiff.

Case No. 4:12-cv-2759

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