Since Wednesday, FEMA has been running a temporary Disaster Recovery Center out of East Lyme Town Hall but today is your last chance to catch the agency in town.
The FEMA counselors have flown in from Atlanta, California, and even as far away as Hawaii and Samoa to help local people struggling to recover in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
"Our goal is just to make them safe and secure and to make sure they have heat and water," said Kathy Vannote, of California, who is working at the temporary FEMA office. "Some need housing, others are looking for financing, others are not sure how much their insurance covers or want to know if FEMA can pick up the rest."
FEMA provides grants to people who need help fixing a primary residence, and can help cover the cost of alternative housing while repairs are being made. This assistance is only available for people whose primary residence was damaged, however. FEMA cannot help if the damage was done to a secondary residence or seasonal home.
Help for Businesses
The U.S. . People whose seasonal homes were damaged are eligible for assistance if the properties generate income as rental units or if the second home serves as the primary residence for extended family members.
Renters are eligible for up to $40,000, home owners can receive up to $200,000 and business owners and non profit agencies are eligible for up to $2 million. Unlike FEMA, which provides grants, the SBA wants the money it offers back at some point.
The interest rate on the loans is a fixed 4 percent for up to 30 years and the money can be used to pay for property damage repairs, to cover the cost of lost property, inventory, income, and wages.
"We're here to help. We're trying to keep them in business," said Bobby Knight, who has come here from Georgia to help staff the SBA office.
About a dozen people came in seeking help from FEMA the first day the East Lyme office opened. The SBA saw about five businesses, two nonprofits, and a couple of home owners. Most were local, coming in from East Lyme and Niantic, although one person came seeking help for a home in New Jersey.
In some cases, the property owners had no flood insurance or had losses that their insurance didn't cover. One woman who came in on Wednesday went to FEMA because her insurance company had denied her claim.
Gerard O'Sullivan, manager of consumer affairs for the State Insurance Department said that his department can also help people file claims. "We recover about $4 million a year," he said.
"We are hearing there are some delays with flood adjusters getting out to assess damage," O'Sullivan said. "It's a large area that was flooded."
Although there were no applicable hurricane deductibles with storm Sandy, O'Sullivan said he advises people to check their insurance deductibles. He said a number of people had opted for higher wind deductibles to lower the cost of their insurance premiums, and they are now discovering that they will have to pay a lot out of pocket to cover the damage.
If you have questions about your insurance coverage or are having problems processing your claim, call the Connecticut Insurance Department at (860) 297-3900 or go online www.ct.gov/cid.