According to recent studies, nearly 80% of homeowners affected by Hurricane Harvey never had flood insurance in place. Many were left with little to no financial aid to rebuild their beloved houses. If you are one of the victims, we’re here to offer a guide to recovery options for local homeowners.
First and foremost, speak with a creditor regarding your mortgage, auto loans, student loans, and credit cards. You may ask for a three-month reprieve from your payments. Many will allow you to push due dates back without assessing late fees. This solution offers much-needed relief, allowing some flexibility while you care for your family and start the home repair process. Remember to clarify the terms of the reprieve and budget with all creditors in the meantime. Many creditors will only defer payments for a specific time, then the balance will come due after the grace period.
Next, be sure to take numerous photographsof each room and angle in the building. Speak with your insurance company to file a claim immediately. Also, be sure to snap a few photographs of any damaged belongings to maximize your insurance claim or to receive the $33,000 in FEMA relief.
Once the water begins to recede, moisture mitigation should begin immediately. Be careful not to throw anything away until your insurance adjuster has an opportunity to examine the property. Your goal is to remove the contents of your home to a safe, dry location so they may dry adequately. There are numerous damage restoration companies in the area who may help.
As soon as the water recedes, begin moisture mitigation right away, being careful not to throw anything away until your insurance adjuster has seen it. The goal is to get anything out of your home that is wet so it can begin to dry. A Shop-vac can be a valuable tool in this effort, so purchase or borrow a unit as availability allows. A dehumidifier may also be a helpful item to expedite the removal of moister from the house.
Note: Please be aware that if your outlets were exposed to water they are likely a hazard to use. Obtain an outlet tester to check the outlet before plugging anything in or have an electrician review your home before operating any appliances.
Once you have full access to all the affected walls in your home, cut drywall to 4’ above the floor using a razor blade. Don’t do it like they do on HGTV with a sledge-hammer. Making the straightest cuts you can will help the process of installing new drywall go much quicker and easier. Again, save everything to be reviewed by the insurance adjuster before tossing it.
Note: Please be wary of any electrical outlets exposed to water, as they are now likely a hazard. Obtain an outlet tester to check each outlet before plugging any devices in, or have an electrician inspect the home.
When insurance will not cover the cost, or your coverage does not apply in full to flood damage, you still have options.
Option 1 – FEMA
Most homeowner’s insurance and supplementary policies do not cover flood damage. If you do not have flood damage on your policy, you may rely on private charity organizations or government aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA has, unfortunately, proven to be an unsuccessful substitute for flood insurance coverage, as they have a cap at $33,000 to cover housing repairs and incidentals.
FEMA reimbursement may be helpful to offset the expense of lost personal items. It typically does not cover home restoration, though.
Aid is usually slow to arrive, particularly in a large-scale disaster that strains FEMA’s capacity to inspect and assess all the damaged homes. There is estimated to be over 1 million homes in Houston and surrounding areas that have taken on water and are without flood insurance. You can expect this process to take a significant amount of time considering the sizable numbers they are dealing with.
Option 2 – SBA Disaster Loans
For those with no access to FEMA aid, a low-interest government loan, known as an SBA Disaster Loan, is beneficial. If you have minimal damage, or damage not covered by other sources, these loans are helpful.
Contrary to the name, these loans are not only for small businesses. There are eligibility requirements, however, especially on loans exceeding $25,000.
SBA may refinance all or a portion of your mortgage if the applicant does not have credit available. You must first register with FEMA and complete additional IRS forms.
Option 3 – Selling in Current Condition
You may be thinking, “No one would buy a flood-damaged house.” Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Real estate investment companies in the area will absolutely make you an offer on your property in its current condition.
Through a home-buyer program, no repairs are required and selling your home is quick and hassle-free. You’ll receive a no-obligation cash offer once the property has been assessed.
Top Cash Offer is fully accredited by the Houston Better Business Bureau. We understand the stress of a disaster, and we’re willing to help homeowners in the area!