KIYC: Homeowners affected by Irene still looking for FEMA help

Some homeowners, even with flood insurance, still haven't

Some homeowners, even with flood insurance, still haven't returned to their homes.

LAKE HIAWATHA - A year after Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey, some homeowners, even those with flood insurance, are still not close to returning to their homes, and confusion about the flood insurance appeals process could be one reason it's taking so long.

Lauren O'Gorman, of the Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany, called Kane In Your Corner when the one-year anniversary of the storm hit, and her home was just an empty shell, without floors or interior walls. O'Gorman has flood insurance, but the claims adjuster offered her just over $70,000 to repair flood damage. Estimates from contractors have come in as high as $172,000.

"Our neighbors didn't have flood insurance and they're back in their home." O'Gorman says. "I don't understand the difference there. You pay flood insurance all these years and they can't help you."

O'Gorman isn't the only New Jersey flood victim to call Kane In Your Corner with this complaint, and misunderstandings about the flood insurance system could be partially to blame. O'Gorman has been calling and sending letters to her insurance company and the claims adjuster, asking for additional money. Unfortunately, that means she was asking the wrong people. Flood insurance claims are actually paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which means FEMA also handles all appeals.

FEMA spokesman Don Caetano urges anyone who believes their flood insurance settlement was too low to file a written appeal. "The decision is not set in stone. We're always willing to look at estimates and reconsider," he says.

Click here for more information about appealing your flood insurance claim

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