Monday, September 19, 2011

The Claim Processes Begin

Yesterday, the FEMA inspector came to look at our house.  As I've mentioned before, our neighborhood was one of many hit September 8-9 in the Binghamton, NY area due to torrential rains (and both flash and river flooding) caused by Tropical Storm Lee.  We were relatively lucky but just a few streets from us they were hit horribly.

However, all affected residents are being urged to register with FEMA. We weren't originally planning to seek help from FEMA, but right now the final amount of our damages are somewhat up in the air.

What I want to do with this post is let people know what happens during the inspection process.

The first step in filing a claim with FEMA is to either register online or call a toll free number.  We did this on Thursday after the newspaper ran stories encouraging everyone to register.  The process is relatively simple.  You will be asked for various information.  One piece of information you must be prepared to give is your annual gross income.

Saturday night we received a call from an inspector, who announced he would be at our house at 8am Sunday.  And, we had to have the declarations page of our homeowners insurance policy handy. (Good luck if where we kept papers had been flooded, I guess, as there would have been no time to contact our insurance agent at 8:30 on a Saturday night!).

He did arrive promptly, with a computer.  This gentleman, incidentally, was not an employee of FEMA but rather a contractor.  I found that most interesting.

After looking at our insurance, he asked us various questions including
-if we had extra expense due to having to find another place to live (our neighborhood had been evacuated);
-if we had suffered any medical or dental issues due to the flooding;
-if we had bought a dehumidifier after the flood;
-if we had lost medication or medical supplies as a result of this event.

and a final question, which totally threw me.

Were we planning to move?

You know, that is a complicated question.  But we told him "no" which is true at this time.
Where would we go?  This was such a widespread event.

The inspector also went (twice) into our basement.  He took measurements with a laser device.  (he did not have a moisture meter).  He went into our upstairs.  He did, from the outside, an inspection of our roof.

He entered all this into a computer, sort of a folding device (not a regular laptop or tablet).  And then he told us we would get a decision in about 8 days, and left.

I finally want to mention that we spoke today to a contractor (recommended by a co-worker) who will do the needed repairs to our first floor living area (the floor is buckling) and he told us, based on previous experience with FEMA, that he feels they are going to deny all claims where there wasn't at least 1 foot of water in the first floor.   He basically told us that FEMA doesn't care about basements.  I find that interesting, since people tend to have their furnaces and hot water heaters in the basement.  And, winter is coming.

We can only see what happens - not so much for us, but to all the families a few blocks from us who were so much more heavily impacted. 

Our insurance adjuster won't come until next Monday, so things will remain uncertain for a while.


  1. Wow, the moving question floored me. Interesting. Hope things are starting to get back to normal, or closer, for you!

  2. Ugh. That sounds so stressful. I hope it goes better than expected!


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