Ida has created so much heartache and destruction and if you are one of those people, I am deeply sorry. In New Jersey we heal our wounds and as the adrenaline dies down we just wonder where to get help to rebuild everything and try to prevent it again. Here’s where you need to turn for help at present…
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Residents and business owners in New Jersey’s six hardest hit counties (Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset and other areas that can be added to this list) can request help online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It’s a good place to start, but there is more.
You may be eligible for federal programs, including low-cost loans for property loss not covered by insurance, grants for temporary shelter, and home repairs. Now that’s the key, a combination of states, local communities and nonprofits are teaming up to provide funding for emergency work as well as storm damage repairs. If your county is not included in the list above, continue to check for updates, as additional counties may be added as damage continues to be assessed.
This is the biggest information for me, I’m terrified of this happening again. We have put things in place to protect what we are rebuilding. Fortunately, New Jersey residents and businesses across our state will be eligible for federal funds to help cover the costs of to prevent similar damage with future storms. First, register for FEMA Disaster Assistance and report your damage by going to NJ.GOV/IDA as soon as possible.
If you have a small business, you’ll want to know that Governor Murphy announced that $ 1 million is available for financial assistance for small businesses that have been hit by the storm. You can read about it here.
So the big question that’s coming up from a lot of people right now is, what do you do if you’ve been damaged but you’re not in a flood zone and your house has been damaged? I mean, if you’re not in a flood zone, you don’t even have to have flood insurance. What happens then?
- Call your insurance company to review the details of your exact blanket. This is what I did and even though I had no flood insurance (which wouldn’t have helped me anyway … I’ll post more about this in another post) I was still able to get some help because our sump pump has stopped working. If you had a lowering brake, you might also be eligible for partial payment. I have looked into this a lot, flood insurance policies have different rules than home insurance policies. If a house or an adjuster says damage isn’t covered, don’t take no for an answer so quickly. Hire an independent professional before giving up insurance benefits.
- Call 2-1-1 in New Jersey from any phone anytime. You will get a dedicated operator who will connect you with community resources and help you know where to get financial assistance for your recovery. You can also text your zip code to 898-211 and they will respond to you with information about resources in your community. I made it myself.
- Take photos: Before you start cleaning, make sure everything is fully documented.
- Inventory Your losses: Put a value on all your damages and costs to repair / clean and replace the property, regardless of your insurance situation. Include the lost item, its location, condition and age of the item, and its actual dollar value for replacement.
- Dry everything to avoid more damage: Mold growth will create more expense, so act fast! The fire department can come and pump you up, which is a HUGE help if that’s when it is. Their hoses remove 100 gallons of water per minute.
- Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood, so remove wet contents, including rugs and bedding, as soon as possible. Get the carpet and padding AWAY FROM THE WALLS. If an item has been wet for less than 48 hours, it may be recoverable. However, you will need to decide if it has sufficient monetary or sentimental value to attempt to do so. Notify your insurance company before removing and disposing of any large or high value items.
- Keep good records, keep a journal and receipts: If repair or remediation work is completed before an adjuster comes to your home, keep copies of invoices and receipts for work already done and materials purchased. Keep a journal of conversations and correspondence with insurance, repair, government and other professionals
- Make sure that any contractor is qualified, licensed, insured to perform the scope of the services they present. Check references before signing service contracts or hiring suppliers.
- If a salesperson shows up at your front door uninvited, tell them to beat them. Reputable companies don’t have to, so they won’t.
- Insist on detailed quotes and estimates, and contracts with clear and reasonable payment schedules.
- Try to make all payments by check or credit card. Do not pay in cash.
- If you have flood insurance, immediately report your claim to your insurance agent or insurer. Be sure to ask them about prepayments. If you need help finding your insurance agent or insurer, call the National Flood Insurance Program at 877-336-2627.
- For household appliances and electronics, take a picture of the make, model and serial number.
- Learn more about starting your recovery with the National Flood Insurance Program at FEMA.gov.
Hope this helps. Also, don’t underestimate the power of breathing … put one foot in front of the other … and breathe.
Visit nj.gov to learn more about government help and how to get help. I will follow up with an insurance expert so that I can post any differences between flood insurance and water damage protection through your home insurance policy. You can find it on our free 94.3 The Point app today. It will be information that will help you protect your own future. I am with you, we will to agree. xo