Dealing With Flood Damage In Your Home
Recent news reports indicate that flooding risks throughout the city and surrounding New York area are on the increase due to climate change. Our recent experiences would seem to bear that out. Many areas were devastated after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and hurricane seasons since have brought storms and heavy rainfalls that have impacted thousands of homeowners. Homeowner’s insurance policy disputes over coverage often result in headaches and delays, while those affected by flooding struggle to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, the damaging effects of flooding may affect any one of us in the future, and knowing what to do in the event that your home is flooded can help to protect your investment, while also helping to prevent injuries.
The Increased Risk for Flooding In NYC
A September 2015 USA Today article on New York City flood risks cites a study attributing rising flood heights in and around the area to rising sea levels caused by climate change. The change in climate has also resulted in increased tropical storm activity and potentially greater storm surges. This combination puts coastal cities along the east coast-including NYC-at greater risk than ever for flooding. The City of New York acknowledges this risk, and warns that as increasing numbers of residents are classified as being at risk for flooding, they may also be required to buy flood insurance. At the same time, congressional changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will likely result in higher premiums for flood insurance policy holders.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which manages the NFIP, has developed new mapping for insurance purposes showing areas of NYC at increased risk for flooding. The city of NYC is updating its own mapping system, and though it has filed a technical appeal regarding FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps, the city urges all New Yorkers to be aware of their flood risk, as well as the new flood insurance requirements.
Dealing With the Aftermath of Flooding
In the aftermath of a flood, the Red Cross warns flood victims to take care of themselves first. Keep your family together, set a manageable schedule for clean up, and make sure to get plenty of rest. The aftermath of a natural disaster is an extremely stressful and frightening time, so be sure to give yourself adequate time to recover, and enlist the help of family and friends. The Red Cross recommends the following steps for repairing your home after a flood:
- Check your home for structural damage before re entering, and turn off gas and electricity;
- Check the ceiling for signs of sagging, and use 4x4s to brace weakened areas;
- Get fresh air moving by opening windows and doors;
- Patch holes in the roof, walls, or floor with boards, tarps, and plastic sheeting;
- Remove any debris, such as branches or trash;
- Hose out your house. Leave the electricity and gas off while you hose out duct work, electrical outlets, and light sockets; and
- Use fans to dry out your home.
While many items can be washed with a bleach solution, it is likely you will have a certain amount of personal belongings, appliances, and furnishings that will need to be thrown away. Notify your insurance agent immediately after a flood, and take plenty of pictures of the damage to your home, as well as your belongings.
Contact Our Experienced Real Estate Attorneys Today
If you are involved in a homeowners insurance dispute, contact our experienced New York real estate attorneys today. At Cavallo & Cavallo, our attorneys can help ensure your insurance provides reimbursement for any damages you incur as the result of flooding and storms. We’re your neighborhood law firm, here when you need us, providing the kind of aggressive representation you need in all your real estate matters. With offices in the Bronx and Westchester, we are prepared to serve you today.