Many homeowners are beginning to make repairs after Hurricane Florence’s devastating crawl across the Carolinas and Virginia in September 2018.
According to real estate data provider CoreLogic, the storm affected 624,000 homes, the vast majority unprotected by flood insurance. Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover damage from storm surges and other flooding. That requires a separate policy, typically purchased from the U.S. government, but consulting and actuarial firm Milliman said fewer than 10% of homeowners in the Carolinas had such coverage.
Many families facing large out-of-pocket costs from Hurricane Florence may be wondering what the next steps are to begin rebuilding. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some resources available to people in the Carolinas affected by the storm.
If you’re looking for more general information on options for repairing your home after a hurricane, see our guide here.
Answers to insurance questions after Hurricane Florence
Flood insurance vs. homeowners insurance
While standard homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover damage from storm surges or other flooding, they should cover damage from, say, a neighbor’s tree that fell on your house and left a hole on the roof where water came through. South Carolina residents with questions about claims may visit the S.C. Department of Insurance. North Carolinians can visit NCHurricClaims.com for information. Insured residential damages in that state may total as much as $7.5 billion while uninsured damages may nearly be twice as much. Total storm damage in the Carolinas and Virginia is expected to add up to $28.5 billion.
Filing for federal disaster assistance after Hurricane Florence
If your home is in a declared presidential disaster area, you can apply for FEMA individual disaster assistance. If you do not have internet access, you can call 800-621-3362.
Disaster aid may cover:
- Temporary housing
- Lodging reimbursement
- Home repairs
- Home replacement
- Permanent or semi-permanent housing construction
- Child care expenses
- Medical and dental expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Essential household items, clothing, tools required for your job and necessary educational materials
- Heating fuel
- Cleanup items
- Damage to an essential vehicle
- Moving and storage expenses
As of this writing, DisasterAssistance.gov shows residents in the following North Carolina counties may be eligible for disaster assistance after Hurricane Florence:
- New Hanover
In South Carolina, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion and Marlboro counties are federally declared disaster areas. As of this writing, there are no declared disaster areas in Virginia.
FEMA may require you to have evidence that your insurance company declined your loss claim and will not cover your disaster-caused loss. When you apply for disaster assistance, you’ll need to provide identifying information like your Social Security number and a current mailing address.
It’s important to remember some FEMA funds are funneled through the state government, so depending on how your state allocates its resources, your reimbursement or assistance may take months. Some North Carolina survivors are still waiting on FEMA disaster assistance aid from Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
According to a FEMA spokesperson, those still waiting on aid from a previous disaster may still qualify for FEMA assistance.
If you were one of the estimated 624,000 homeowners affected by Hurricane Florence, help is available. Sources of financial assistance range from your own insurance policies, to government assistance and loans, to charitable organizations, to simply borrowing from a private lender.
Rebuilding may be costly and seem overwhelming, so look to resources like United Policyholders and the Insurance Information Institute or your state’s emergency management office. North Carolina residents may visit ReadyNC. South Carolina residents may go here.
If you need advice when deciding between options, consult a fee-only financial professional who has experience working with homeowners following a disaster.
If you are considering bankruptcy, it’s recommended you speak with a bankruptcy lawyer about the options available to you and any protections provided by your state.