$43 Thousand, We Can’t Use To Fix Our House!

We “Do” the Right Things, with Honor and Integrity, but are Still Accused of Malfeasance

The following is some of the story of how we came to hold on to a $43K check from the NFIP for 8 years.

After suffering our first flood loss and then restoring our home, we were immediately confronted with more flooding. Our practical and moral compasses, rejected the idea, that it was normal to enter into this viciously wasteful cycle of flood, repair, repeat. We immediately began researching ways to prevent (ah, mitigate) this cycle. We were quick to learn why our NFIP policy number began with SRL an acronym for SEVERE REPETITIVE LOSS.

It’s really to bad that there was no way for us to view the previous owners flood claims, neither their insurer nor the NFIP would provide us this information. And to say the least, their seller’s disclosure was not the most forthcoming document. Further, the Sea Bright Borough representatives and neighbors we spoke with, all painted the nuisance flooding as no big deal and stated the storm of 92′ was the last problem anybody had here.

Ah, misery loves company. The nuisance flooding at 8 Center Street, meant water flooding our first floor on a regular basis. For us, this involved more than just moving our cars — it meant lifting all of our furniture, appliances and belongings onto cinder blocks — just to, “Do” the right thing, and save our stuff.

So, our research led us to FEMA’s HMGP (Hazard Mitigation Grant Program). It was to be our remedy, or a way to “stop the stupid.” The stupid wasteful cycles of flood, repair, repeat. Finding that we qualified for an elevation grant and that Monmouth County was providing the funding for all its municipalities to secure their ability to participate in this and other flood management opportunities, we knew we were set. The Borough and Mayor Fernandes promised us their help in obtaining our mitigation grant and seemed excited by the new opportunities available to the community.

With this knowledge and promise in hand, we knew we could endure a another year or so of flooding and vowed to, tough it out, without making any more repairs.

Then came the good news that our grant was approved. Shortly thereafter, usher in Hurricane Irene. With the knowledge that our home was to soon be elevated, we could now file a claim for Irene’s damages and get our past years of unclaimed carnage finally repaired. It was a godsend to know that we could look forward to a mold and hazard-free, restored home, when this was over.

So, prior to the start of the Borough’s construction and elevation of our home, we once again did the right thing. We gutted the damaged floors, trim, cabinets, insulation and wallboard. This was wonderful, as we now allowed the builder access to wall and floor cavities he couldn’t have had, if these repairs were not executed at the same time of his work. It also allowed for us to finally treat the mold and air out the wood. This was a plan that had been explained and discussed multiple times with all of the professionals, contractors and the Borough. It was related to them so they could clearly understand the increased access they would have to perform their work. Thereby, improving the final results.

Imagine our dismay when the first day of work is halted at our house, because the Builder and Engineer have called an emergency meeting in our home without our knowledge purportedly, to discuss how we have damaged our property and are going to interfere with their work. So, they brought council members, architects and engineers to meet in OUR home, to discuss us, without our knowledge. WHAT??? These dummies, couldn’t even wrap their collective heads around the process required to repair a flood damaged home.

Fast forward a few months into their six-week project, we find that T&M’s engineer is accusing us, “THE NON-CLAIM FILING DUO” of insurance fraud, stating that we received a $43K from The NFIP, in addition to our grant. Not only did she accuse us of theft, but then she said we did it twice! Yes, twice!

Once again showing complete lack of understanding or an ability to take in simple concepts. She’s showing everyone our claim history with two payments for the exact same amount down to the penny, saying – “They’re going to get a new kitchen.” Dumb-ass! Firstly, anyone looking at the claim history, with a lick of understanding, would know it’s impossible to file two independent claims totaling out to the exact same amount (unless of course you think you’re winning the next MegaMillions drawing). Secondly, she had been told on multiple occasions that we were waiting on the elevation, in order to repair our home, lest it be damaged again before it was lifted. Thirdly, she had been told repeatedly, as the claim history must be reviewed in the grant application process, that we were waiting to repair and had to have the check re-issued from the NFIP as it had EXPIRED. Yes, it expired and it has expired again. Because they kept us waiting on this project for years! YES, that’s why the EXACT same check, shows up twice in our claim history. But, even after seeing the physical checks, the engineer still went about bad-mouthing us.

One can only wonder, how people feel it is their duty, to watch over and protect the government’s coffers — ONLY, if they are not the ones who are pilfering them.

A side note to this whole fiasco… In prepping our home for the construction, we found an abandoned chimney in the center of the home. Not one of the “specialists” throughout all of their inspections of the crawl space had noticed this chimney. Upon its discovery we were able to remove it, (5yds of bricks, gingerly tossed in a rush order dumpster, on a Saturday morning), thus eliminating a). A dangerous condition for the workers; b.) Certain delay and c.) An additional expense to the project.

The Rule of Accuracy: When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you know the answer.

John Peers

Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it.

George Bernard Shaw

Author: Murphy