Road Map for Rebuilding

This map is for the homeowner who needs to access all the assistance and resources needed to rebuild his or her house from the ground up. 

Flood Insurance Requirements

When property owners receive financial assistance from the Federal Government following a disaster declaration, they may be required to purchase flood insurance coverage.

Flood Zones and Flood Maps

Flood zones are areas identified by FEMA for use in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These zones indicate how likely an area is to flood. If you live in one of the areas most likely to flood — the A and V zones — you will be required to purchase flood insurance for your home. In addition, the maps provide information about your home’s “Base Flood Elevation.” This measure determines whether or not you may need to elevate your home.

The official flood zone maps can be found on the FEMA website. If you would like to speak to a local expert to examine the maps, contact your local planning, engineering, or public works department.

Reading a Flood Map

The codes on the map can tell you whether an area is likely to flood and how high a home in that area should be elevated to avoid flood damage. A and V zones are both below “Base Flood Elevation” and are likely enough to flood that flood insurance is required. The letters are followed by numbers that show just how likely the area is to flood. The higher the number following the A or V the more likely a property is to flood. (It is better to be in A1 than A30.) B, C, and X zones are considered unlikely to flood because of their elevation, drainage, or levee protection. If you live in a B, C or X zone, you are not required to carry flood insurance, but remember that while you are not required to carry flood insurance on properties located in these zones, any losses you incur that result from a flood can be covered only through the NFIP.

What the Flood Maps Mean to You

The flood zones can guide your rebuilding. They may determine whether you can rebuild, whether you can get certain kinds of assistance, and whether you will need to elevate your home. Following a disaster, FEMA may revise flood maps. Be sure to reference the most recent flood map and insurance requirements before taking steps to rebuild or repair your home. For more information, visit http://rfcd.pima.gov/dfirm/pdfs/femafaq.pdf.

Damaged Structures At or Above Flood Elevation:

If your home is at or above the required flood elevation based on a flood zone map or a certified elevation survey, you can immediately begin to repair or rebuild, regardless of how much damage your home received. Low-interest SBA loans are available from FEMA based on the actual cost of repairing or rebuilding a flood-damaged home and personal property, minus any insurance reimbursement.

Current loan limits are:

  • Homeowners — Up to $200,000 to repair or rebuild a primary residence to its condition before the disaster.
  • Homeowners and renters — Up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property, such as clothing, furniture, and automobiles.
Damaged Structures Below Flood Elevation:

If your home flooded and you are not at the required flood elevation based on flood zone or a certified elevation survey, your home could fall into one of two categories:

  • Minor damage — If the structure sustained flooding, but was not substantially damaged, repairs can be made simply by getting the necessary permits over the counter or online. You will not need a new elevation certificate.
  • Substantially damaged — If the structure was substantially damaged (50% or more of the replacement value prior to the flood event), you will be required to elevate the building to the current flood elevation. This is for your own safety. If you carry flood insurance, contact your insurance carrier for information on deductibles and limits.

Do I Need to Elevate My Home?

If a flood damages your property, you may be required by law to bring your home up to community and/or state floodplain management standards. If you have NFIP insurance, and your home has been declared substantially damaged by your community, Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage is provided to cover up to $30,000 of the cost to elevate, flood proof, demolish, or relocate your property. ICC coverage is in addition to the coverage you receive to repair flood damages; however, the total payout on a policy may not exceed $250,000 for residential buildings and $500,000 for non-residential buildings.

For more information please visit www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program-2/ increased-cost-compliance-coverage.

State assistance programs may also be available; see your state’s Resource Guide in Route 4.

Caution: Environmental Issues In addition to flood conditions, you also need to be aware of the environmental problem of toxic soil that may be a result of prolonged flooding. You need to consider how these problems are dealt with in the local building codes or other requirements related to rebuilding or repairing a home.

Building Codes: “Don’t Fight City Hall!”

Building permits are generally issued by the local Building or Planning Department. The permits are based on building codes for your area. Building codes are laws and ordinances detailing minimum safety standards that are required both for your personal safety and for others. Building codes vary from one jurisdiction to another, so you will need to check with your local office to find out the exact procedure for obtaining a building permit.

State Programs: Understanding - My State’s Recovery Assistance Resources

Now that you’ve charted your course by selecting a map and checking in at the FEMA pit stop, its time to find out how your state might help make your journey a successful one.
Both New Jersey and New York have a broad range of comprehensive disaster recovery resources for topping your tank. There are far too many resources to list in this guide, but in this section, we will provide key New Jersey and New York “one-stop” sources for disaster recovery. In Route 4, the State Resource Guides list specific local service providers.


NEW JERSEY (NJ Residents only)
2-1-1
The abbreviated dialing code for free access to health and human services information and referral in New Jersey is 2-1-1. This easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number makes a critical connection between individuals and families seeking services or volunteer opportunities, and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Up-to-date notifications on recovery resources and government, nonprofit, faith-based, and private providers can also be found on the Web at www.nj211.org. This website is a vital source of information for people and businesses needing assistance in New Jersey.
In addition, the NJ 2-1-1 website provides a comprehensive guide to federal, state and local disaster recovery resources.

New Jersey Counties Eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance
All 21 counties in New Jersey are eligible for Individual Assistance.
 
New Jersey Emergency Management
The New Jersey Emergency Management Agency, www.state.nj.us/njoem, provides up to-date information on the activities of the New Jersey emergency center. Make this one of your first stops for current information on how New Jersey is responding to the damage left by Hurricane Sandy.

The Housing Resource Center
Search for available rental housing on the New Jersey Housing Resource Center (NJHRC) website, www.njhrc.gov, which hosts information on available affordable rental properties statewide. Users are able to find units and also post available units on this site, which is updated daily. Landlords throughout New Jersey are opening their available properties to Hurricane Sandy victims, and many of these units are now listed on the NJHRC website.
 
NEW YORK (New York Residents Only)
2-1-1
The abbreviated dialing code for free access to health and human services information and referral in New York is 2-1-1. This is an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that makes a critical connection between individuals and families seeking services or volunteer opportunities, and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Up-to-date notifications on recovery resources and government, nonprofit, faith-based, and private providers can also be found at the following websites listed by region. These are comprehensive sources of information for people and businesses needing assistance in NY.

Hudson Valley 211: Serving Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties, www.hudson211.org/cms
Long Island 211: Serving Nassau and Suffolk Counties, https://211longisland.communityos.org/cms
 
1-855-NYS-SANDY
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a new hotline to help residents and businesses apply for financial help after the storm. The telephone number is 1-855-NYSSANDY (697-7263).
 
New York Counties Eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance

The following counties were declared eligible through FEMA for Individual Assistance: Kings, Nassau, Ulster, Sullivan, Queens, New York, Richmond, Suffolk, Westchester, Orange, Putnam, Bronx and Rockland.

New York Emergency Management

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides FEMA and state Hurricane Sandy Hotline Contacts and numbers at www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/sandy/contact.cfm. Make this one of your first stops for current information on how New York is responding to the damage left by Hurricane Sandy.

NYC.gov/NYC Restore

For New York City residents, www.NYC.gov provides detailed information on recovery programs and services including clean-up, emergency housing/shelter, housing repair, health and environmental concerns, and social services. NYC Restore, is a comprehensive effort to connect residents and businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy with financial, health, environmental, nutritional and residential services, as well as FEMA reimbursement processing. The initiative consists of seven NYC Restoration Centers located in the communities that were hit the hardest, to provide long-term assistance to New Yorkers. More information and Restoration Center locations can be found at www.nyc.gov/html/ misc/html/2012/dasc.html.

Obtaining a Building Permit

Permit requirements are based on where your property is located and what damage was caused by the storm. In order to get a building permit to start repairing or rebuilding your home, you will probably need the following three documents:
 
  • Elevation Certificate — Obtained as part of your flood insurance documents or mortgage documents. If you have not received it, you will need to check with a licensed land surveyor. This certificate will help you determine if your current slab elevation meets the Base Flood Elevation for your particular flood zone.
  • Cost of Repair Estimates — No guessing here. The repair estimate should be obtained from a licensed general contractor, professional construction estimator, or insurance adjuster.
  • Fair Market Value — Acceptable estimates of your home’s market value include a recent appraisal (value of land not included), a copy of your homeowners or flood insurance policy stating the value of the structure, a tax bill, or a comparative market analysis prepared by a licensed real estate broker.
 
Frequently Asked Questions About Damage and Building Codes
 
Q. Suppose I don’t agree with the official damage assessment of my home. What can I do?
 
A. You may dispute the assessment by visiting your local permit office to request a re-evaluation of your property. To quickly complete the assessment, bring with you: the estimated market value of your house prior to the storm, a detailed description of all damage, and photos that show the specific areas of contention.
 
Q. How will officials decide if a building should be demolished?
 
A. Inspectors will evaluate how structurally sound a property is. They will recommend demolition if: damage affected more than 50 percent of the structure, or estimated repairs would cost more than 50 percent of the property’s pre-hurricane value.
 
Q. Do I need to wait for an inspection before I start cleaning and gutting my property?
 
A. No.
 
Q. How do I determine my Base Flood Elevation (BFE), and where do I get an Elevation Survey?
 
A. The Base Flood Elevation is determined by an elevation survey, which can be acquired by having a licensed surveyor do a certified elevation survey of your property.
 
Q. I want to repair my home even if the government thinks I should demolish it. What can I do?
 
A. You will need to obtain the right building permits, and all repairs must follow current building standards to make sure the building is structurally safe. You should take pictures of every step of work during reconstruction.
 
Slow Down and Catch Your Breath!
You’ve just navigated through the most technical information in the guide book, you came out just fine, and there are clear skies ahead. Your journey is a long one from here, but you’ve got good weather and the wind at your back.

State Programs: Understanding - My State’s Recovery Assistance Resources

Now that you’ve charted your course by selecting a map and checking in at the FEMA pit stop, its time to find out how your state might help make your journey a successful one.


Both New Jersey and New York have a broad range of comprehensive disaster recovery resources for topping your tank. There are far too many resources to list in this guide, but in this section, we will provide key New Jersey and New York “one-stop” sources for disaster recovery. In Route 4, the State Resource Guides list specific local service providers.


NEW JERSEY (NJ Residents only)
2-1-1
The abbreviated dialing code for free access to health and human services information and referral in New Jersey is 2-1-1. This easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number makes a critical connection between individuals and families seeking services or volunteer opportunities, and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Up-to-date notifications on recovery resources and government, nonprofit, faith-based, and private providers can also be found on the Web at www.nj211.org. This website is a vital source of information for people and businesses needing assistance in New Jersey. In addition, the NJ 2-1-1 website provides a comprehensive guide to federal, state and local disaster recovery resources.

New Jersey Counties Eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance
All 21 counties in New Jersey are eligible for Individual Assistance.
 
New Jersey Emergency Management
The New Jersey Emergency Management Agency, www.state.nj.us/njoem, provides up to-date information on the activities of the New Jersey emergency center. Make this one of your first stops for current information on how New Jersey is responding to the damage left by Hurricane Sandy.

The Housing Resource Center
Search for available rental housing on the New Jersey Housing Resource Center (NJHRC) website, www.njhrc.gov, which hosts information on available affordable rental properties statewide. Users are able to find units and also post available units on this site, which is updated daily. Landlords throughout New Jersey are opening their available properties to Hurricane Sandy victims, and many of these units are now listed on the NJHRC website.
 
NEW YORK (New York Residents Only)
2-1-1
The abbreviated dialing code for free access to health and human services information and referral in New York is 2-1-1. This is an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that makes a critical connection between individuals and families seeking services or volunteer opportunities, and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Up-to-date notifications on recovery resources and government, nonprofit, faith-based, and private providers can also be found at the following websites listed by region. These are comprehensive sources of information for people and businesses needing assistance in NY.

Hudson Valley 211: Serving Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties, www.hudson211.org/cms
Long Island 211: Serving Nassau and Suffolk Counties, https://211longisland.communityos.org/cms
 
1-855-NYS-SANDY
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a new hotline to help residents and businesses apply for financial help after the storm. The telephone number is 1-855-NYSSANDY (697-7263).
 
New York Counties Eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance

The following counties were declared eligible through FEMA for Individual Assistance: Kings, Nassau, Ulster, Sullivan, Queens, New York, Richmond, Suffolk, Westchester, Orange, Putnam, Bronx and Rockland.

New York Emergency Management

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides FEMA and state Hurricane Sandy Hotline Contacts and numbers at www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/sandy/contact.cfm. Make this one of your first stops for current information on how New York is responding to the damage left by Hurricane Sandy.

NYC.gov/NYC Restore

For New York City residents, www.NYC.gov provides detailed information on recovery programs and services including clean-up, emergency housing/shelter, housing repair, health and environmental concerns, and social services. NYC Restore, is a comprehensive effort to connect residents and businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy with financial, health, environmental, nutritional and residential services, as well as FEMA reimbursement processing. The initiative consists of seven NYC Restoration Centers located in the communities that were hit the hardest, to provide long-term assistance to New Yorkers. More information and Restoration Center locations can be found at www.nyc.gov/html/ misc/html/2012/dasc.html.

 

Alternative State Pools and Corporations

Many states have “last resort” insurance pools for residents who are unable to secure private-sector coverage. As many companies have discontinued or sharply reduced policy-writing, these last resort pools have become the only available source of insurance for many in areas vulnerable to hurricanes.

New Jersey: Check www.state.nj.us/dobi for information on the availability of alternative insurance pools.

New York: Check www.dfs.ny.gov for information on the availability of alternative insurance pools.

Need Help Now? Navigating the Claims Process

The claims process can be complicated and overwhelming, especially if you have lost important photographs, receipts, and other vital documents in a disaster. In addition, you may have to file a claim with several different companies if you have separate carriers for homeowners, flood, and automobile insurance.

Most states have laws on how you and your insurance company should conduct the process of filing a claim and resolving the claim. Insurers are usually required to make a written settlement offer within 30 days of receiving a claim, provided the customer has submitted satisfactory proof of loss.

Fortunately, FEMA and many state insurance regulators make guidance for the claims process available on their websites. We’ve also organized this section to help you quickly learn about claims-related topics and get answers to your specific questions.