More than a year after “Superstorm” Sandy made its devastating pathway through the northeastern United States, many homeowners are still struggling to pick up the pieces. Fortunately, homeowners who were affected by the storm – the 2nd most expensive in U.S. history – have been able to receive aid from FEMA and various other relief organizations. The downside, however, is that the relief seems to have come with a few strings attached.
According to a recent article from CNN Money, some Sandy victims were given grants from FEMA which went toward securing safe temporary housing, but the money was issued with the agreement that the homeowners would have to buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). While flood insurance is definitely seen as a worthwhile necessity for the folks in the northeast, the price is pretty steep. According to a couple interviewed for the CNN Money article, their $31,000 grant from FEMA could wind up costing them up to $30,000 in flood insurance.
Furthermore, FEMA told the couple that they were now zoned in the highest-risk flood area, which would require them to raise their home. This might not have been a huge issue, if it weren’t for the fact that they had already begun making repairs (FEMA urged them to begin repairs quickly to get them out of expensive temporary housing). Those repairs would now need to be redone, according to the couple, and more money would be coming out of their pockets.
Some critics argue that the high cost of NFIP, the clumsy way FEMA responded to repairs, and the slow response time for aid are enough to call for major relief reform. However, it’s important to note that such a high level of unexpected damage is no easy thing to recover from. Relief agencies and other nonprofit efforts are in place to help rebuild and protect survivors of major catastrophes such as Superstorm Sandy, but their efforts are often far from perfect. Nevertheless, things could always be worse. Thankfully, we live in a country where such relief efforts are readily available. The sad part however, is that these homeowners may find themselves in further debt before they get the relief they need.
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