Yesterday afternoon, as they walked out of the Back River Community Center carrying a stack of papers they received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and local agencies, they were angry and frustrated.
Wal-Mart to buy clothes for our family. We have no place to live and no money to live."
The Walters, whose home in Bowleys Quarters was heavily damaged by Chesapeake Bay floodwaters from Tropical Storm Isabel, thought FEMA would help them find a place to live right away.
What FEMA will do is this: inspect damaged houses, determine grants for repairs not covered by insurance, and provide money for temporary housing and disaster-related medical, dental and transportation expenses.
FEMA will not provide money immediately at disaster recovery centers or reimburse people for all of their losses.
Homeowners, renters and businesses are eligible for FEMA's help. They must apply and qualify for specific programs before any money can be allocated. Checks are sent by mail.
Residents whose homes were damaged must first call 1-800- 621-3362 to register with FEMA.
FEMA officials stress that the assistance they provide is not a long-term solution.
FEMA provides small grants - averaging about $2,500 each - for home repairs not covered by private insurance and for such expenses as temporary housing, medical and dental costs, transportation and other disaster-related needs.
Low-interest long-term loans are available from the federal Small Business Administration for homeowners, renters and businesses.
A renter can apply for up to $40,000, a homeowner for up to $200,000 and businesses up to $1.5 million. The interest rate as of Saturday was 2.8 percent for individuals and 2.9 percent for businesses.
FEMA has set up three Disaster Recovery Centers in the Baltimore area, one at the Back River Community Center in Middle River, one in Annapolis and one in Fells Point to offer assistance,
The Walterses, however, still don't know the extent of the damage to their house - a frustration shared by many of their neighbors - because their insurance adjuster hasn't shown up yet.
They can't get back into their small house on Galloway Creek - its contents were lost in the flood - because they were told to wait for the adjuster to tell them whether the house is habitable.
So the Walters and their two teen-age sons have been staying temporarily with relatives in a cramped house with four other people.
"The officials tell me they can't do anything to help us," Joseph Walters said. "They told us to go to a hotel and pay for it up front. We might be reimbursed. We just don't know."