Flood Victims Waiting for Relief

November 30, 2004Many homeowners say they have still have not received the insurance money to repair and rebuild their damaged homes from this summer's torrential rain and flooding.

The homeowners we talked to are covered under the National Flood Insurance Program funded by the federal government. But if you think that coverage ensures they'd have no problem putting their lives back together - think again.

Floodwater destroyed the first floor of the Digaetano home in Medford, New Jersey back in July.

Bernadette DiGaetano/MEDFORD, NEW JERSEY:

"Every day is just struggle and a frustration knowing we're still not back in our house."
It's now been more than four months! The Digaetanos say their file was temporarily suspended after the insurance company delayed processing it.
"It's a waiting game that you play and it's a tragedy because this is your life."


"The door blew in and like a tidal wave the water rushed into the basement from the outside."
Leigh Donadieu got six feet of water downstairs. But she's also waiting for her pay-out from the National Flood Insurance Program.
"We now are fighting everyday through our public adjustor to try to get the money we need to try and put our life together."
Both consumers do recommend hiring an independent public adjustor to protect your interests. But make sure you hire a reputable one that is licensed and bonded in your state and also carries an errors and omissions policy. And realize you'll have to pay a percentage of your claim payment for the service. The average is 10 percent. Also read your contract carefully. Watch for any extra fees and make sure it includes a cancellation clause.

Here are some other tips:


"If you do have a claim - it's very important to stay on top of it and get it filed very, very quickly."
You only have sixty days to file a proof of loss with a damage estimate.
"If you don't, more or less you're at the mercy of the National Flood Insurance Program if you miss those deadlines - it could be devastating."
And even if you have a public adjustor be persistent. Keep the ball rolling.

In the end, Bernadette credits Action News for helping get her money. We placed one phone call to her insurance agent and Bernadette was called back that day and told her check was in the mail. Leigh Donadieu has good news, too. When we talked to her yesterday she reported she now has her check as well. She also says her public adjustor helped her get 37-thousand-dollars more than her carrier originally proposed.

(Copyright 2004 by Action News. All Rights Reserved.)

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2004