Top Ten Things to Do if Damaged by a Hurricane
by CBJC Staff September 8, 2017
During what is shaping up to be a particularly destructive hurricane season, we wanted to share our Ten Things to Do List which the City Bar Justice Center developed after Sandy hit New York in 2012. This is not legal advice but general information. Please consult a legal aid or pro bono lawyer in your state for tailored legal advice.
1. Inspect your property (home or apartment) to see if you have property damage and secure the property.
- Take pictures or video of any damage before you clean up.
- Make a list of any items destroyed or lost.
2. If you have property or renter’s insurance and/or flood insurance, call your insurers to report loss.
- They will send an adjuster. Make sure to respond to calls or emails from this adjuster who will have a different name than the insurer.
3. Determine if you are eligible for FEMA.
- Fill out the online screening form for FEMA eligibility at www.disasterassistance.gov.
- This also will tell you if eligible for any other government assistance.
4. Determine what, if any, important papers have been lost or damaged and make a list. If you lose any public benefits, notify the agency immediately to have them reissued.
5. Contact FEMA for emergency rent (1 month) or mortgage payments (3 months). Contact a legal aid lawyer if you are a renter to determine whether you must continue to pay rent.
6. Check for other emergency resources available including from local government and charities.
7. Apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits if you were laid off from work as a result of disaster-related closures. The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides unemployment benefits and re-employment services to individuals who have become unemployed because of major disasters. Benefits begin with the date the individual was unemployed due to the disaster incident and can extend up to 26 weeks after the Presidential declaration date. These benefits are made available to individuals not covered by other unemployment compensation programs, such as the self-employed, farmers, migrant and seasonal workers, and those who have insufficient quarters to qualify for other unemployment compensation. Apply online at https://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/disaster.asp or by telephone.
8. Talk to tax advisor on whether you can file an amended return to claim any unreimbursed losses.
9. Secure your source of income. Notify parties of change of address and consider renting a post office box if you have relocated. If you lose any public benefits notify the agency immediately to have it reissued.
10. Follow-up whenever you receive a request for more documentation on your FEMA or insurance claims. Keep all receipts. Use licensed contractors not informal labor for major repairs.
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