MOUNT VERNON, Ind. (WFIE) - FEMA announced on Monday that they are accepting applications for funeral assistance funds for people who died due to COVID-19.
The family of Mary Waller, who was the first person to die of COVID in Posey County, is one family that has considered applying.
Ruth Waller, Mary’s daughter, said losing her mother was one of the hardest things she’s had to go through.
“I think COVID could be the worst kind of death someone could go through,” she explained. “I was lucky enough to be there when she took her last breath and her heart stopped beating. And I’d seen what it did to her body before that.”
Her son, Truston said the months since have been long, but this week was worse because Wednesday would have been his grandmother’s 83rd birthday.
While they’ve worked to fill the hole in their hearts, they said funeral costs and residual bills have made things worse.
“We’re still receiving bills in the mail,” Ruth said.
Families like the Wallers are why FEMA is offering up to $9,000 in funeral assistance.
Truston had to leave school to help with his grandmother because it was just too expensive.
He was there when she beat breast cancer, and he’s still here now that she’s gone.
He said he believes the federal funds could go a long way toward helping them.
“It would be really nice just having that money for the balance,” Truston said.
Whether they get the money or not, Ruth said she wouldn’t change a thing - honoring her mom is worth more than any bill.
“My mom deserved a funeral,” she said.
Update: Since our report Wednesday with the Wallers, we learned Ruth Waller is facing a fraud charge connected to her mother’s funeral. A probable cause affidavit claims she did not hand over $791 dollars in insurance money that was supposed to go to the funeral home.
FEMA help can be applied for by calling 844-684-6333 or texting 800-462-7585.
As of Wednesday night, FEMA warned that high call volumes meant some people would get a busy tone or dropped calls.
They said there is no deadline, so calling back later is not an issue.
Information about applying can be found on FEMA’s website.
To be eligible, applicants must be able to provide a death certificate that lists a COVID-related cause of death and documents that list funeral costs.