Homeowners who live in areas that are likely to be flooded have every incentive to get insurance for their property. As the country saw from natural disasters like the floods in the Midwest that began on June 7, as well as Hurricane Katrina, home flooding is a devastating loss.
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But still, some people choose to go without – and other people may not think they’d ever have been flooded. Can you turn to any agency to replace your home if you’re uninsured and your home is fully flooded?
No, not to any one agency, but for someone whose home has been truly wiped out, Laura Howe, spokesperson for the Red Cross says, getting help from several agencies and groups, buffet-style, may be the way to go.
Note that FEMA can only help if the flood is declared a national disaster by the president, which will have been requested by the state’s governor. A national disaster means the destruction has a wide impact and has stretched above the capabilities for the local government to respond and will be dispersed to a homeowner by an Individual Assistance Program.
But Individual Assistance is only a "token amount" for temporary housing, home repairs or replacement, says Barbara Lynch, Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesperson for Region 2 and "these are long shots." (Additionally, FEMA can offer assistance for needs other than housing that are caused by national disasters, such as disaster-related medical, dental or funeral costs, according to their web site.) Unfortunately, the majority of flooding incidents are not declared national disasters, she says.
Although it sounds basic, houses of worship, schools, and charities like Salvation Army, Red Cross and Catholic Charities for financial assistance should be a place to turn to. The Red Cross, for instance, often issues debit cards to victims of natural disasters.
Howe says debit cards usually carry $750 to $1,000 and can be used towards buying groceries, replacing clothes or putting gas in the car. But charitable assistance can only bridge the gap before FEMA assistance arrives and is “not a replacement for insurance by any stretch of the imagination,” Howe says. “We’re not here to replace the value of your home.”