(Reprinted from 54°40′ Or Fight with exclusive permission of the author)
Dateline Highlands New Jersey – November 11, 2012. On a day meant to honor our service members, a proud ex-servicemember is denied help by the country he fought so hard to protect. Jamie Gowan who is living out of his neighbors Jeep was denied assistance by a FEMA representative because his home is covered by flood and homeowners insurance.
Gowan was reached exclusively by 5440FIGHT.COM for a telephone interview. While his own insurance company adjuster has not come by the house, he’s not receiving any assistance and there is no telling how long that will take.
Regrading the adjuster, Gowan says:
“He was supposed to be here Wednesday, and now it’s Sunday and he’s still not here. I’m not looking for a handout or anything I’m just looking for a place where I can live with my family. My house is destroyed. It had four feet of water in it and it’s a single one story house. I lost everything I ever worked for. I’m 57 years old, I served my country proudly for 30 years and I’m just frustrated.”
After almost two weeks Gowan becomes obviously weary and irate as he quotes the FEMA representative who came by the house: “What are you doing just looking for a check?” “That really put a bad taste in my mouth,” says Gowan. ”I’m not just looking for a check are you for real? … I just want a place I can go to to sleep with my family … not living out of someone’s Jeep … It’s bad.” While the sun is out today, they just missed a Nor’easter and it’s getting cold. He explains that adjacent to his house is a pile of trash with people’s lifelong possessions that “justs keep getting higher and higher and higher.”
Gowan has no immediate family in the area. His wife is on the volunteer squad providing First Aid. He grew up in upstate New York, a four and a half hour drive from where he is now. He lost his Mom in 1974 and enlisted the in the Navy in 1975 during the Vietnam War. He served proudly until 1995 when he retired. He’s been all over the country, both east and west coasts, California, Florida, and finally where he met his wife, in New Jersey. ”Back then if you had told me at the time I’d end up in New Jersey I’d have told you that you were crazy,” he jokes.
While Gowan finally has power, he must turn it off when he leaves for work on a graveyard shift as a boiler operator. Salt water corrosion of the electrical system for his home has rendered it unreliable and unsafe to operate when he’s not there to keep an eye on it. He and his neighbors live in constant fear of fire from these damaged electrical systems:
“If one of these houses go up they all go up,” he explains.
While FEMA hasn’t helped much, private individuals have come forward to provide Emergency Assistance. ”You know what? You know who has been of help? I can tell you right now it’s the American People that’s been the one’s who have helped,” he explains. According to Gowan one wealthy individual came forward to donate an entire tractor trailer truck of emergency generators to the town. “It didn’t come from the Government let’s put it this way,” Gowan explains stiffly.
This is just one example of how the plight of those injured by Sandy has been ignored by the mainstream media, and how Barrack Obama has not been held accountable to the same standards George W. Bush was in wake of Hurricane Katrina. Gowan becomes obviously emotional when he talks about the Government’s reaction to his pleas for help.
“I believe in the American Flag because number one I served my country … I don’t believe in our Government sometimes. I took my flags down because of the storm, but it’s back up [sic]. I believe in that flag. There’s a lot of things I don’t believe in but I believe in that flag.”
How are folks getting by? Gowan explains: ”We’re a tight knit community here and we are helping each other out.”