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FEMA FUNERAL FRUSTRATION: Woman calls 17 times until getting help

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Posted at 9:11 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 02:42:58-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas families who have lost family members to COVID-19 are now trying to make up for the financial loss to bury them.

Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering assistance and the organization says they've been inundated with calls.

MORE: FEMA has information on eligibility requirements online

To add insult to injury, these families could be targeted by scammers.

“I called at 6 a.m. here and the moment I called it said the line was busy,” says Lorena Llamas. “I was like, that’s weird.”

Since Monday, Lorena Llamas has called FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line 17 times.

“In my mind, I thought I’m calling first thing in the morning, I should be able to get right in,” says Llamas.

Llamas lost her mother last summer after battling COVID-19 inside University Medical Center.

“They wheeled her away in a wheelchair and that was the last time I hugged my mom while she was alive,” said Llamas.

She was finally able to get through Wednesday afternoon.

FEMA is now giving financial help for COVID-19 related funeral expenses that happened after January 20, 2020.

The assistance provides $9,000 per funeral.

RELATED: FEMA accepting COVID-19 funeral assistance applications on Monday

FEMA says the assistance line was having technical issues due to high call volumes this week.

Adding to the problems getting through, FEMA issued a fraud alert after reports of scammers offering to register folks for funeral assistance.

FEMA says they will not contact anyone until they have called FEMA or have applied for assistance.

“It’s very scary to think that someone else could have called,” says Llamas.

Casa de Paz Funeral Home near Charleston & Lamb is accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

Miguel Angel Rojas says when applying don’t forget one last step.

“Also reach out to the funeral home and let them know that you’re applying,” says Rojas.