Even without flood insurance there's financial help, but you may have to wait and it may not be much

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Thursday, May 9, 2024
Next steps to fixing your home after the catastrophic flood
How much will FEMA pay for flood damage? If you don't have insurance after Texas' catastrophic flooding, there's still help available.

KINGWOOD, Texas (KTRK) -- If you flooded from last week's storms, you might be wondering what to do next. Experts said the answer depends on whether you have flood insurance.

Survivors hold 'demoralizing feeling' during clean-up

Scott Baumgardner has been busy working on his Kingwood home. The ripping and tearing isn't to put the house together. It's to take it apart.

Baumgardner's throwing drywall, insulation, and contents out because a swollen river sent feet of water into his home. The third time, his property on Dunnam Road has been underwater.

"It's a kick in the knee," Baumgardner explained. "We'll just say that. It's a terrible, demoralizing feeling."

This time is different for Baumgardner. The first two times he flooded, he didn't have flood insurance.

He spent thousands on construction and new household items.

"This time, I've got insurance," Baumgardner explained. "I'm sure it's going to be better. I don't know how much better it's going to be."

What flood coverage holders should do

If your home was impacted last week, here's what to do if you have flood insurance. Experts said you don't have to wait for a disaster declaration.

Call your insurance now. An adjuster should arrive within a couple of weeks.

"Your homeowner's insurance covers falling water, so rain," University of Houston economics professor Steven Craig said. "Flood insurance covers rising water."

You don't have to live in a flood plain to get it. FEMA data shows the average cost of insurance in Texas is $776 for a single-family home. In Harris County, the average price is $763.

What happens if you lack coverage

It's much different if you don't have flood insurance.

"Once your house floods, you're sunk," Craig said. "You're going to lose a lot of money if you haven't done something about it."

Craig has studied the financial impacts of flooding.

"FEMA doesn't have to pay any money if your house floods and you don't have insurance," Craig explained.

But sometimes, FEMA does pay, based on how much damage the area receives. If a disaster declaration is issued, grants or loans could be an option.

Right now, local officials are working with federal leaders to see what help could be provided. County leaders expect low-interest loans to be an option.

Money you'd have to pay back. In the past, grants have been offered.

Money you wouldn't have to pay back. However, after Hurricane Harvey, FEMA said the average homeowner only received five thousand dollars.

Having flood insurance could cover $250,000 in repairs.

Not flooded? Experts warn you to stay aware

If you don't have it, Craig says watch your surroundings. As the area develops, watch what happens when it rains because floodplain maps could be outdated.

"If you were living in the only house and a big field, and now all of a sudden all of that big field is all cement, that water has to go somewhere," Craig explained. "It can't go in the ground."

If you're unsure if your home is in a flood zone, FEMA has a tool that allows you to enter your address. Hurricane season starts June 1.

If you decide to get flood insurance, it most likely won't start by the beginning of hurricane season. Most policies take 30 days for coverage to begin.

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