active disaster quick links

National Disaster

Legal Aid

News & Alerts

News & Alerts

Why FEMA Aid Is Unavailable To Many Who Need It The Most

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Speights' mobile home in DeQuincy, La., is at the end of an unpaved road in a stand of tall longleaf pines. Donnie and Stephen Speight bought the land and the house 11 years ago after Stephen retired from his job as a pipe fitter at a local petrochemical plant.

The area around their home is flat and marshy. Creeks wend their way toward the Gulf of Mexico. Egrets linger in the tall grass. The Speights liked how secluded and quiet it was.

Stephen's nickname at work was "Termite" because he was agile enough to crawl into pipes when he was younger. But his health was declining. He was a Vietnam veteran who had been exposed to Agent Orange during the war and had rapidly advancing diabetes and mobility problems.

It took everything Donnie had to care for her husband. "I got arthritis like crazy. It's in my hands, my arms, my neck, my hips, my knees," Donnie says. "I don't know how I was doing it."