FEMA discusses options for homeowners without flood insurance

FEMA discusses options for homeowners without flood insurance
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Rebuilding and navigating the process to get help from insurance or the government can be overwhelming. A town hall organized by State Rep. Ted James looked to connect people with state and federal resources, to try and get their questions answered.

For example, there was Mary Irma Thomas, a retired educator, who lives outside a flood zone and did not have flood insurance. She said her house was a total loss.

"What I'm not understanding is insurance," Thomas said. "Some people are saying it wasn't a flood, we had nothing but sewage, and that sewage backup is not covered."

Thomas, like so many without flood insurance, will be looking to FEMA and its individual assistance program for help as they start rebuilding. However, even that program will only do so much.

"Individual assistance is a safety net. It can help, but it doesn't rebuild one's home," said Roy Wright, director of FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program.

The max gr ant a person could hypothetically receive from FEMA's individual assistance is $33,000. However, Wright said the max payout is "not typical." On average, Wright said the payout is usually in the single thousand dollars and mostly goes towards temporary housing.

Acceptance into the individual assistance program, Wright said, is determined on a household-by-household basis, based on income and ability to pay and the nature of the damages.

"I've seen events at $4,000 as an average. I've seen events at $8,000 and $9,000," said Wright, who added it's too soon to tell what the average payout will be for the Louisiana flooding event.

However, there are other options for homeowners without flood insurance like special loans through the Small Business Administration, and social and volunteer programs.

"Those without flood insurance, call 1-800-621-FEMA and they can register for individual assistance. There are a variety of ways that we could help," Wright said.

Those with flood insurance will have a slightly easier time, according to Wright. He said 25,000 homeowners with flood insurance have already made claims through their providers and a payout of more than $20 million is already underway.

Wright also said that 1,000 FEMA adjusters are on the ground working to get to every claim. He expects that number to double.

"Those who had coverage are going to recover more quickly and more fully. Those without will be relying on other types of social safety nets," Wright said.

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