My family needs help ["Vote on Sandy bill set," News, Jan. 25]. Our home was under 41/2 feet of water from the storm. We live in a split-level home, 300 feet from the bay. Our kitchen is on the lower level.

While we had flood insurance, the language in the contract declared that our kitchen and living room were a basement. As a result, insurance only covered structural renovations. This means that all contents -- couch, chairs, cabinets, appliances, kitchen table, counters, cooking utensils, pots, pans -- would not be covered. We now own a home without a kitchen.

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You might think that there are alternatives. Small Business Administration loans, for example. We were declined by SBA, due to our debt load. We are just regular people with two teenagers. My husband is retired from law enforcement, and I am in education. We live paycheck to paycheck.

You might think that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be an alternative. We have been declined two times, so far. The reason? We have flood insurance.

Each time we communicate with FEMA, it seems that the rules change. Originally, we were told that FEMA would make us "whole"; the agency would cover all that insurance would not. Then we were told that because we received an insurance settlement greater than the highest amount FEMA grants, we are ineligible for assistance.

How is it that FEMA's manual states that it will help make the home habitable but will not help us put back a kitchen? FEMA told us to reach out to charitable organizations for grants. With all the taxes, insurance and bills we have always paid, we are reduced to asking for charity. We are humiliated. Please encourage the government to stand up and help its citizens.

Lisa Carelli-Lang, West Islip