May 2016  

   
Flood Recovery

In response to the recent mid-April floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened three Mobile Disaster Recovery Centers (MDRCs) in Harris County. The MDRCs function like fixed Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) to help homeowners, renters and businesses who suffered losses during the severe weather and floods, but are able to move to other locations if needed.

"Four Disaster Recovery Centers recently opened in the area and have registered more than 12,500 people," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "So far more than $18.3 million has been approved to help flood survivors in our area."

Going to a DRC or MDRC is not a requirement for registration, but specialists there can provide guidance regarding disaster recovery and rental resources, explain written correspondence received from FEMA, inform survivors of the status of their application, make referrals to other organizations and answer questions.

The MDRCs are located at:
  Foundry United Methodist Church, 8350 Jones Road, Houston, TX 77065
  Katy Park, 24927 Morton Ranch Road, Katy, TX 77493
  Lone Star College-University Park, 20515 TX- 249, Houston, TX 77070
The fixed DRCs are located at:
  Bayland Community Center, 6400 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX 77074
  Greenspoint Commercial Office Building, 16800 Imperial Valley Dr., Houston, TX 77060
  Cypress Creek Christian Church and Community Center, 6823 Cypresswood Dr., Spring, TX 77379
  Lone Star College Cy-Fair Library, 9191 Barker Cypress Rd., Cypress, TX 77433

Hours at the centers are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.

Survivors can also apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362. TTY users should call 800-462-7585. The toll-free lines are open 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week. Applicants will be asked to provide:
  Social Security number
  Address of the damaged primary residence
  Description of the damage
  Information about insurance coverage
  A current contact telephone number
  An address where they can receive mail
  Bank account and routing numbers for those preferring direct deposit of funds

Eligible survivors should register with FEMA even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but under-insured applicants may receive help after their insurance claims have been settled.

When you register, FEMA will give you a case number. Keep this number handy. Each time you call back you will be asked for your case number. FEMA may cover damages ranging from home repair/replacement to income loss due to the flooding event. Vehicles and other property losses may also be reimbursable.
If you have Flood Insurance, File a Claim Immediately

FEMA will only consider your case once a settlement between you and your insurance company has been reached. You may be eligible for additional FEMA reimbursement on items not covered by your insurance after your insurance settlement has been determined.

Save all your Receipts

Since your need to restore your home will come before your insurance and FEMA coverage is settled, save all of your receipts as these costs may be reimbursable.

Take Pictures

Take pictures of everything that documents your loss, from wet walls in your home, to home furnishing, vehicles, etc. that have sustained loss.

Harris County Waives Fees for Building Permits and Inspections

If your home flooded and you live in Harris County outside the City of Houston, Tomball, Humble or the Woodlands, the Harris County Department of Engineering has set up a disaster hotline at 713-274-3880. Harris County is prepared to issue you a building permit at no charge so that you can begin reconstruction right away. Inspection fees are also waived. If you have flood insurance, a building permit will be required as part of your settlement process. If you live in Houston, Tomball, Humble or the Woodlands, contact your respective cities.

Consult www.harrisrecovery.org regularly for the latest on what FEMA and local government is doing in relation to recovery. This information will include deadlines for registering, where to go to meet directly with a FEMA representative for mobile registering and what to bring with you.

For Immediate Help

The Red Cross is working with people affected with immediate needs such as food, destroyed medicines, eyeglasses and short term emergency financial assistance. To make an appointment with a Red Cross representative, call 1-866-526-8300.

Lone Star Legal Aid provides legal assistance to disaster-affected individuals. They can help with filing insurance claims, contesting insurance claim denials, problems with landlords of damaged apartments, help replacing important documents, emergency SNAP benefits, and dealing with fraudulent contractors. Call 1-800-733-8394 or visit their website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Home Repair Tips after the Flood

For the big jobs, homeowners should hire a reputable licensed contractor. FEMA mitigation officials suggest getting bids from two or three contractors. Ask for references. Many other repairs may be easy work for handy do-it-yourselfers. Tasks like moving basement or first-floor electrical equipment and appliances, however, may require the help of a professional.

Start with the main circuit breaker or fuse box. Move it up to at least 12 inches above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for your home or building. Your insurance agent or local flood plain administrator can tell you the number.

Check with your local building department. If the electrical code allows, raise electrical outlets and switches above flood level.

If you need to replace a flood-damaged furnace, water heater or air conditioner, have the new one installed on a higher floor. If your air conditioner or heat pump is outdoors, install it on a raised platform. Place washers and dryers on blocks, making sure they will not vibrate off the blocks during use. A 1- or 2-foot waterproof floodwall around appliances will protect them from shallow flooding.

Do-it-yourself tips for repairing flood-damaged buildings:
Walls - If the wallboard and insulation were removed, wash and disinfect the exposed vertical wooden studs, and the horizontal wooden sills at their base. If rebuilding, consider metal studs and sills as they are less damaged by water than wooden ones.
Wallboard - If you install the wall board horizontally (4 feet high), you will only have to replace half the wall if the next flood is less than 4 feet deep. Leave the wall open 1 inch above the sill. The baseboards will hide the gap, and all you have to do after the next flood is remove the baseboard and the wall cavity will drain freely and air will circulate better.
Paints - Completely dry the surface before painting. This may take several weeks, but paint will peel if applied over a damp surface. Coat concrete surfaces with penetrating sealer for easier future cleanup.
Windows and Doors - When appropriate, replace flood damaged windows with vinyl or metal framed windows. Hollow core or polystyrene foam filled metal doors are water resistant.

Natural disasters are unpredictable, and even the best preparations may not hold up in the next flood.

The first step in moving on after a flood is getting rid of damaged or destroyed personal property that can't or should not be saved. FEMA mitigation experts tell flood survivors to always throw out flood-dirtied cosmetics, medicines, stuffed animals, baby toys and food that may be spoiled. It's also a good idea to get rid of mattresses, pillows, rugs, books and other paper products. Should you throw away this or that? Good advice from one FEMA mitigation specialist: If you have to ask, throw it away.

Next, dry out your house – lower the humidity. Open doors and windows to let fresh air circulate. Open closet and cabinet doors; remove drawers from their cabinets. Run dehumidifiers and fans. Give your house plenty of time to dry. The rule of thumb is, if it takes one week for visible moisture to disappear, it will take at least another week for unseen parts to dry.

Alternatively, you may want to turn the job over to a flooding and storm damage professional. Go online to search "water damage restoration" or "dehumidifying."

For more ideas on reducing flood loss, view FEMA's booklet, "Protecting Your Home and Family From Flood Damage," at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/21471.

If you have Flood Insurance, File a Claim Immediately

Notify your Insurer to Start the Claims Process

After experiencing a flood, contact your agent or insurance company to file a claim. Make sure you have the following information handy:
  The name of your insurance company
  Your policy number
  A telephone number and/or email address where you can be reached at all times

An adjuster should contact you within a few days of filing your claim. If you do not hear from an adjuster, contact your insurance agent or company again.

DOCUMENT THE DAMAGE

Separate damaged from undamaged property. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to your home and possessions to prepare your repair estimate.
Take photographs of all of the damaged property, including discarded objects, structural damage, and standing floodwater levels.
Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their date of purchase, value, and receipts, if possible.
Officials may require disposal of damaged items so, if possible, place flooded items outside of the home.
COMPLETE A PROOF OF LOSS TO SUPPORT YOUR CLAIM

Your adjuster will assist you in preparing a Proof of Loss (which is your sworn statement of the amount you are claiming, including necessary supporting documentation) for your official claim for damages. A Proof of Loss can be many things, but must contain the specific details set forth in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. You'll need to file your Proof of Loss with your insurance company within 60 days of the flood. This document substantiates the insurance claim and is required before the National Flood Insurance Program or insurance company can make payment.

You will receive your claim payment after you and the insurer agree on the amount of damages and the insurer has your complete, accurate and signed Proof of Loss. If major catastrophic flooding occurs, it may take longer to process claims and make payments because of the number of claims submitted. Visit FEMA's website to find out more about filing your claim.

NOTE: It is important to register with FEMA at the same time as you file your insurance claim. The documentation mentioned above is important for both processes.

Important Phone Numbers and Websites
  FEMA: 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) 8:00 p.m. – midnight (7 days a week) www.disasterassistance.gov
  United Way (for assistance outside of FEMA): 2-1-1 or 713-957-4357
  Questions regarding debris removal in unincorporated Harris County:
    Precinct 1: 713-911-6881 (24/7)
    Precinct 2: 713-455-8104 (8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
    Precinct 3: 281-463-8703 (5:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)
    Precinct 4: 281-353-8424 (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
For more information and regular updates, go to www.readyharris.org.
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Harris County Animal Shelter New Mobile Adoption Vehicle

The Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services, Division of Veterinary Public Health recently presented its new mobile adoption vehicle to the public. The new, state-of-the art vehicle, which is 34 feet long and can carry up to 33 animals, will help get more homeless pets adopted from the county's animal shelter.

Animals housed at the Harris County Animal Shelter can now be brought to a variety of locations and events throughout the county for adoptions. The shelter receives an average of 80 animals a day, so increasing the number of adoptions is critical. As a government shelter, it must accept all animals, regardless of whether the shelter is full, or whether the animal is sick or unadoptable.

The mobile adoption vehicle contains specific design features to showcase the pets. It has its own water supply to help keep pets clean, dual air-conditioning units to ensure pets are comfortable during events and a built-in visiting area to allow potential adopters to interact with the animals.
If you or your business would like to host a mobile adoption event, call 281-418-1804 or email chodges@hcphes.org.
Visit the Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services, Division of Veterinary Public Health website at www.hcphes.org/vph to see pictures of adoptable animals, get shelter information and learn about volunteer opportunities.
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