FEMA to come to Passaic County to assess flood damage
Federal authorities will be coming to Passaic County Thursday to assess the damage left by flash flooding.
The flooding damaged nearly 200 homes in Little Falls when the Peckman River overflowed during a heavy rainstorm.
Homeowners learned that FEMA would be on hand during a town meeting Tuesday night at the Little Falls Civic Center. Homeowners also learned that permit fees will be waived during rebuilding.
"Although we are waiving the fees, I want to be clear, we still need everyone to apply and fill out the proper paperwork,” Mayor James Damiano said at the meeting.
State officials also want to remind the flood victims to take photographs of the damage and to keep all receipts for work to be handed over to FEMA.
Some who attended the meeting offered access to volunteer groups who are willing to clean homes damaged by the water.
"These are organizations that provide support with mold remediation with mucking and gutting,” one volunteer said.
Officials say that over two dozen homes in Little Falls are uninhabitable.
Little Falls resident Badreddin Youssef says that he is still drying his floors. His home is gutted.
"I'm in the last phase of cleaning and demolition,” he says.
Youssef says that this is not the first time his home flooded. He says that he went through it once before in 1999 during Tropical Storm Floyd.
Youssef says that he is covered by flood insurance. But two blocks away the Gutschmidt family isn't required to have flood insurance, and their homeowner’s policy is denying their claim.
"We got over five feet of water,” says Justin Gutschmidt. “We hit an estimate of $60,000 worth of damage.”
How to contest a denied insurance claim is one if the topics state officials addressed during Wednesday’s meeting. They also discussed the possibility of buyouts and assistance with raising houses in time for the next round of flooding.
The homeowners haven't been in their own homes for the last two weeks. Some have been in hotels, while other have rented apartments. They say that they are expecting some type of help from the federal government. But they will have to wait until FEMA’s assessment to find out how much.