#05-189 September 12, 2005
DNR News (803) 734-3950
State DNR Offers Free Flood Insurance Advice
Thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees are heading to the Palmetto State, and the S.C. Carolina Department of Natural Resources is offering free assistance for those having difficulty filing a claim for property covered by flood insurance.
Katrina produced heavy rainfall and flooding along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Mississippi. "Many homeowners with National Flood Insurance coverage, who are also evacuees, will soon be filing claims under their flood insurance policy," said Lisa Jones, state coordinator for flood mitigation programs with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "Their first point of contact should be the insurance company that sold them the flood insurance policy. We will assist them if they are having trouble getting their claims filed or processed by their flood insurance carrier, or have general questions concerning the National Flood Insurance Program."
For more information on the National Flood Insurance Program or the state's flood mitigation programs call the S.C. Department of Natural Resources in Columbia at (803) 734-9103 or (803) 734-9100. You can also check the DNR Web site at http://www.dnr.state.sc.us/water/env...od/scnfip.html. You can also get more information at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web sites at http://www.fema.gov/ or http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/index.jsp.
Some of the most common aid misconceptions circulated in past disasters are:
I have insurance, so there is no other help available. Not True: FEMA will not duplicate insurance benefits, but you may be eligible for help with losses not covered or for damages in excess of your coverage ("underinsured"). That is why it is important to register for assistance even while you are working with your insurance company to assess your insurance coverage.
I have to wait for my insurance adjuster before I apply for disaster assistance. Not True: Do not wait for an adjuster before applying for aid or making repairs needed to make your house livable. However, you should find out what your policy covers, and be sure to keep papers and receipts for any work undertaken.
I already repaired my home. I don't need to apply. Not True: If expenses were not covered by insurance, you might qualify for reimbursement.
I got help from the American Red Cross, so now I can't get help from FEMA or the state. Not True: FEMA and the State Emergency Response Team coordinate a number of programs to help disaster victims. These programs are different from the emergency food, clothing and shelter initially provided by the American Red Cross and other voluntary agencies.
I got help from the American Red Cross, so I'm already registered with FEMA. Not True: Registration with the American Red Cross is not the same as registration with FEMA. For federal and state disaster assistance, you must submit another application by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.
Only low-income residents qualify for disaster aid. Not True: The kinds of help provided depend on each applicant's circumstances. Federal and state disaster assistance programs may be available to those who suffered damage, regardless of income.
I have to be turned down by my bank before I can apply for a disaster loan. Not True: If you lived in a declared county you are eligible to apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). More than 95 percent of the loans approved by the SBA are approved with interest rates as low as 3.187 percent for homeowners. If SBA cannot approve your loan application you may be referred to other agencies for additional assistance, but that can't happen if you don't return your application.
I must own a business to apply for a loan from the SBA. Not True: The SBA low-interest loan is the primary source of federal assistance for long-term recovery for homeowners, renters and business owners. SBA covers uninsured or underinsured losses for real estate damages as well as personal property damages.
I rent an apartment. I can't get help. Not True: There are several types of assistance available to renters. One type of grant may help renters with temporary housing needs if they have to move because of disaster damage or loss. Another type of grant may be available to an eligible individual or family with serious, disaster-related needs and necessary expenses that are not covered by insurance or other disaster assistance programs. Also a renter may qualify for an SBA low-interest disaster loan for personal property damages.