No flood insurance? Here’s where to get help
If a flood destroys your home and property and you do not have flood insurance, you may feel like you’ve lost everything. But once the flood waters recede, help is available to get you back on your feet.
Your first step: check your insurance. While your home insurance policy probably won’t cover flood damage, your auto insurance policy could. If a flood damages or destroys your vehicle, it will likely be covered – less your deductible – as long as you have full coverage on your automobile policy.
Some owner policies will cover expenses associated with mandatory evacuation orders, so if you’ve had to pay for a hotel or meals away from home, keep your receipts and see if your insurer will reimburse you.
For assistance beyond what your insurer provides, turn to the following sources.
You can apply for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency once the president declares your state a major disaster area and your county is nominated for individual assistance.
FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program provides up to $ 36,000 per household for temporary housing, repairs and construction, plus up to an additional $ 36,000 for other post-disaster needs. Money cannot duplicate what insurance provides, but it can supplement it and you don’t need to pay it back.
You can apply for FEMA grants at:
Rent accommodation if your accommodation is uninhabitable. If rental accommodation is not available, you can request temporary accommodation. The aid is for a maximum initial duration of three months, with a maximum of 18 months.
Repair damage or replace property not covered by insurance.
Help pay for other disaster-related expenses, such as funerals, medical and dental assistance, and child care.
In rare cases, FEMA may pay to build permanent or semi-permanent housing in places where other alternatives are not possible.
Federal grants are only available for your primary residence, not for second homes. At least one person in your household must be a U.S. citizen or meet certain requirements for non-citizens.
To verify eligibility and apply for a grant, visit DisasterAssistance.gov.
SBA Disaster Loans
If you need more help than FEMA grants can provide, consider applying for a low-cost loan from the Small Business Administration. SBA loans are the most common form of federal disaster assistance. You don’t have to own a business to qualify.
Loans only cover uninsured damage to your primary residence. The terms are for a maximum of 30 years, with a maximum interest rate of 4% if you cannot get credit from another lender and 8% if you can. Here are the loans available, along with some of the restrictions:
Up to $ 200,000 to repair or replace your primary residence. You cannot use the loan to make any improvements or additions unless required by building codes.
Up to $ 200,000 to refinance a mortgage. This is only available if you cannot get credit elsewhere, have suffered uncovered damage, and plan to make repairs.
Up to $ 40,000 to replace damaged goods, such as clothing, furniture and appliances. These loans are aimed at both tenants and owners.
You can apply for an SBA loan online, by mail or in person at a FEMA disaster recovery center.
State, county and local government departments
If you need help, don’t limit yourself to federal aid. FEMA recommends that survivors contact their local emergency management services to find more information about available resources.
Local governments may be able to direct you to free meals, provide unemployment disaster assistance, and help you with requests for federal assistance.
Nonprofits spring into action in the aftermath of a flood. One of the best known is the American Red Cross, which provides shelter, meals, cleaning supplies, and sometimes one-on-one assistance with recovery planning.
“In some situations, the Red Cross may provide financial support directly to people who need additional help,” wrote Greta Gustafson, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, in an email. “This help can help pay a deposit for a new apartment, replace lost clothes or other belongings, cover transport costs or [pay for] any other urgent need. This support is generally directed to the most vulnerable victims of each disaster.
United Way locals may be able to help with cleaning, repairs to your home, and even mortgage or rent payments if you lost your source of income during the disaster.
If you’re not sure where to turn for help, call 211 or visit 211.org to find services in your area.
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Sarah Schlichter writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]