My sister's house ended up with 4 feet of water in it during the recent Georgia flood. She thought she was lucky as she had flood insurance. Not.
Turns out flood insurance, which costs her somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 to $700 a year (on top of regular home insurance) has extensive limits. It doesn't cover the repair of fences that are destroyed by trees that are knocked down, or the knocked down trees, ditto with porches, most basements, etc., etc. Her neighbor had just completely built in his basement, furnished it, put in a bathroom, etc. It wasn't covered because it was cinder block or something silly like that... he was in the driveway crying, really crying, after the adjuster left.
The water hit right at the 4ft mark at my sister's house, which means that they wouldn't repair anything above that mark... even though the water soaked up the walls and ruined the upstairs, buckled her new hardwood floors, left mildew all inside the walls up to the ceiling, etc. Half an inch more water and the rest of the house would have been covered I gather!
The kicker is that since she has flood insurance, regular insurance wouldn't cover the other stuff either --- it was flood related.
And FEMA? Well, she has flood insurance... FEMA might have paid for her hotel expenses for a while, but the adjuster (or whatever they're called) thought it was safe for her to live in the place with the mildew, wet, etc. (with a three-year old). Then, after she yelled loud enough (after reading the bit at the end of this post), they said sure they'd give her something normally, but they showed she was trying to sell her house and thus they couldn't. She's not trying to sell her house.
It seems it might have been better off if she didn't have flood insurance because then FEMA would cover more based on what I've heard and read from those affected by the floods.
How's flood insurance work? It's government run. Need I say more? But I will...
The way I understand it, insurance companies simply act as a type of broker for government run flood insurance. You can't buy private flood insurance. Way back when the government started offering flood insurance the insurance companies couldn't compete. They got out of it entirely.
I could regale you with more horror tales from my sister's experience over the past few months, but there's not enough space on the Internet to cover the craziness. It was a real eye-opener for me, and for my sis. It has been the most aggravating part of the flood. She lost so much... photos, years of memories, her school annuals to things passed down through the family to things she was saving for her grandchildren to come. You can't imagine until you've been through something like that just how devastating it can be to sift through a lifetime of gooey, moldy, smelly memories. To have to deal with the government on top of that is like pouring acid into a wound.
I want to leave you with this from FEMA:
If I am an undocumented immigrant, am I eligible for assistance for disaster-related needs?
- Yes, you may be eligible under many different programs run by state and local agencies and voluntary agencies for various types of cash assistance.
If I am an undocumented immigrant, am I eligible for any assistance from FEMA?
- You may be eligible for short-term, non-cash, emergency aid provided by FEMA.
- You will not be personally eligible for FEMA cash assistance programs (Individuals and Households Program Assistance); however, you may apply on behalf of your U.S. citizen child, or another adult household member may qualify the household for assistance.
- Even if you or your family does not qualify for FEMA cash assistance (Individuals and Households Program Assistance), please call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY for hearing/speech-impaired) for information and to be referred to other programs that can assist you regardless of your immigration status.
If I am an undocumented immigrant, can I apply on behalf of my child who was born in the United States?
- You can apply on behalf of your minor child (under 18 years of age) for FEMA cash assistance (Individuals and Households Program Assistance) if you live together.
- You will not have to provide any information on your immigration status or sign any documents regarding your status.