Most of those affected by the recent flooding don’t have flood insurance policies because "they’re hard to get, and they’re expensive.”
If it floods one more time, Melissa Dunham is moving.
Dunham, who lives at 106 Henry St. in Herkimer, said her basement filled the first time June 28 and again July 2.
“I have to replace everything. I’m out of pocket for everything,” she said. “If it happens again, we definitely aren’t coming back.”
Dunham doesn’t have flood insurance because she’s not in a flood plain zone that requires it. And homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding. So she’s banking on Federal Emergency Management Agency aid, like many others in the Mohawk Valley.
Relief is hard to find for private individuals, said Greg Raab, manager of integrated services at Adjusters International in Utica. There’s just not much out there, he said.
“It’s going to be a long haul for local residents,” he said.
Most of those affected by the recent flooding don’t have flood insurance policies, Raab said.
“They’re hard to get, and they’re expensive,” he said.
While there has been no official word on whether FEMA aid will be available to private individuals or public property, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed concern over the possibility of not receiving assistance in the 15 counties — which include Herkimer and Oneida — affected by the recent bouts of heavy rain.
State could help
So, what, if any relief, could individuals receive?
If the federal government doesn’t step in, Cuomo said the state will.
“Some of these homes … there’s no way for them to put their lives back together,” he said. “We’ll make sure they’re not alone.”
It’s unknown what exactly will be done.
Raab said calculating the private assistance threshold is complicated, but even if the region does receive federal assistance, “it’s not a floodgate of funds into the household.”
Raab suggested homeowners get an official copy of their full insurance policy and discuss their options with an expert.
“Most homeowners aren’t aware if they have sump-pump failure or water backup endorsement, and/or to what extent,” he said.
Mohawk resident Pam Gydesen said that while she lost everything in the basement, she had a clause in her homeowner’s insurance that covered sump-pump back-up, so she’ll be getting $5,000.
“We do have a sump pump in there and it did come up through that hole,” she said. “I lucked out. Nobody else on my street has that coverage.”
Raab warned, however, that while add-ons are fairly common they typically have caps between $2,500 and $5,000.
Future of floodplains
Typically, flood insurance policies cost around $1,200 a year, said Mike Kelly, producing agent at Day, Scarafile & Read.
Page 2 of 2 - Even if residents do purchase a flood insurance policy, Raab said, it covers damage from the first floor up. A separate policy must be purchased to cover personal items.
“Flood does not cover basements, other than mechanicals,” he said.
The house at 500 Maple Ave. in Herkimer was ripped off its foundation June 28 and now sits condemned, said Ronnie Williams, whose girlfriend’s mother, Dolores Smith, lived in the house.
“The only thing holding it up is the front steps,” Williams said. “The last I knew insurance wasn’t going to pay for anything.”
Smith’s home is in Zone X, according to FEMA flood mapping for the village of Herkimer that dates back to 2002. Raab said Zone X isn’t required to have flood insurance.
FEMA has been working on updating floodplain maps in Herkimer and Oneida counties, said Paul Weberg, senior engineer for the agency.
While Oneida County’s new maps will take effect in September, he said Herkimer County’s has been stalled because of levees in the village of Herkimer.
“We expect to restart that shortly,” he said. “It’s going to be more accurate. When there is construction in the flood plain, (it ensures) that it’s done in a way to mitigate future flood losses.”