Thursday, December 06, 2012

FEMA help

Most of  hurricane Sandy damage was at the New Jersey shore and in the New York city area.  But Milford got hit, too.  Some of the old houses are condemned.  The city building inspector pulled certificate of occupancy from many beach houses.   Some houses have their waterside walls washed away...or collapsed.    I wish they had done what they did when they created Silver Sands:   condemn the area , buy every one out and not let any one else build on the coastline.  The area is then open to all as a state park. 

Until they do that, I have to address the damage alone.  Feelings of gratitude:  I am not one of the people living on the New Jersey shore.  Whole neighborhoods were flattened by wind, rain and fire.  However, this is my third rebuild in about a year....something I can not keep repeating.

Phone call to FEMA:   A representative comes to the house and inspects.  She leaves.  I get a check for $1100...the amount that goes out to everyone to help with food and rental expense.  It really helps, but not much.

Insurance adjuster comes and speaks welcome words:    You have sewer backup coverage.  No openings in the house blew in.  The only way that water and mud can come in is up...through the sump pump hole, the drain system, shower drain....any hole in the floor.  I am covered.  The adjuster goes on the roof.  Two thirds of my roof has to be replaced.   Landscaping is sandpapered from the storm surge.  My front lawn is covered with wood, some one's steps, beach sand.  My brand new picnic table is gone.  My recycle bin has floated away, but I find it in the marsh, covered with mud.  It comes home and gets a hosing down.

I can't do this every year.  Some people say that this is the 200 year flood.  Another one won't happen until  200 years from now.  I am thinking that with climate change/ global warming, this type of flood will happen yearly.    Clearly, I need to do something different.  Sell?     Yes I would, except that every third house on my street has a for sale sign in front of it.  I would have to take a financial loss.

Some people are raising their houses above the flood high water mark.  Their houses were on blocks with no basement.   It was easier for them to raise their house than it will be for me to raise mine.  However, this is an option I must explore....or continue to get flooded out every year.  My insurance company will probably drop me....and the cost of flood insurance is beyond my budget...$6000 a year.

The FEMA people are very nice.  I get a lot of booklets to read.  I am told that since I don't have any flood insurance, they can't help me.  However, I may be eligible for a grant to raise my house up to the national standard...above flood level....and....I may be eligible to a loan to pay for the rest of the cost of raising the house.    I am given the application for the loan and told that if the loan comes through, I am not obligated to accept it if my plans change.   Bob Gregory is in charge of the grant program and I know him from his involvement with veterans activities.   It won't hurt to talk to him. As I leave the FEMA office, I am given a gift:   a bucket with cleaning supplies.