In the midst of all the damage and upheaval many people are experiencing as a result of this awful storm, it is important to document your damage and to seek as much insured compensation for your losses as possible. In addition to what your own insurance can do, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also provide disaster recovery assistance.
FEMA, the SBA and the State of Connecticut have some very helpful and meaningful advice for those homeowners and businesses who may never have experienced losses of this magnitude before.
Immediately after the storm Governor Malloy requested, and President Obama immediately granted, declarations of an expedited major disaster in Connecticut for Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London Counties in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. This declaration paves the way to provide assistance to individuals, businesses and nonprofits for a variety of disaster-assistance services and programs.
In the coming days, state officials and FEMA will be conducting damage assessments to determine if additional counties may be eligible for assistance. Residents and businesses in the non-declared counties (Litchfield, Hartford, Tolland and Windham) should call 2-1-1 to report their damage.
Disaster assistance is financial or direct assistance to individuals and families whose property has been damaged or destroyed as a result of a federally declared disaster, and whose losses are not covered by insurance. It is meant to help you with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways. This assistance is not intended to restore your damaged property to its condition before the disaster.
According to FEMA, if you have insurance you must also file a claim with your insurance company. The state Insurance Commissioner advises that if you have not already contacted your insurance agent to file a claim, you should do so as soon as possible. Failure to file a claim with your insurance company may affect your eligibility for assistance.
There are three ways to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA:
Whether applying online at DisasterAssistance.gov, from your computer or smartphone, or over the phone through a FEMA call center, you should have a pen and paper and the following information ready:
Those with additional questions or who would like to speak to someone in person have the option of visiting one of several FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) that have been set up around the state. The DRCs are located at:
If you missed work due to Hurricane Sandy, you can file a claim to see if you are eligible for benefits. If you have returned to work, or have a date to return to work within the next six weeks, you and your employer can complete and mail the UC-62V claim application. The form and instructions can be found on the Department of Labor’s Web site.
If you were out of work for less than a full week you may be eligible for partial benefits. Two-thirds of your gross weekly earnings would be deducted from your Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR).
The SBA is committed to providing the people of Connecticut with federal disaster loans; getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is their highest priority.
Small businesses in the disaster declaration counties mentioned above are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the other communities in the state are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Governor Malloy announced in November that $3 million in additional energy efficiency incentives are now available for residents and businesses replacing furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and refrigerators as a result of damage from Storm Sandy.
The incentives will apply for replacement of equipment with more energy efficient models between October 29 and December 31. The deadline for applications for the incentives is December 31, 2012.
In addition to these incentives special funding is available in the form of low-cost financing for eligible equipment with optional on-utility-bill repayment for customers who make energy efficiency upgrades in equipment or insulation and air sealing while renovating or reconstructing their residence or business as a result of storm damage.
A special team has been formed to assist home owners and businesses through the application process for these increased incentives and financing options.
Anyone seeking information about the various energy efficiency incentives or financing options available for replacing or repairing equipment should call the Connecticut Energy Information Line at 1-877-WISE-USE (1-877-947-3873).
Connecticut homeowners will not face higher-cost hurricane deductibles resulting from the impact of this week’s damaging storm. In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, I helped pass into law new criteria that insurers must meet before imposing a higher hurricane deductible. Based on data from the National Weather Service, Storm Sandy did not meet the statutory criteria and therefore “companies may not impose a hurricane deductible on Connecticut claims.”
The state Insurance Department offers the following tips when filing claims:
Cash is best: the best way to support survivors of Sandy is to make a financial contribution to trusted organization. Please read these tips on donating and volunteering responsibly.
Give blood: numerous blood drives have been canceled as a result of the storm and the Red Cross has a need for blood donations. To schedule a blood donation or for more information about giving blood or platelets, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).