For many Hurricane Sandy affected homeowners, the decision to not purchase contents coverage under their flood insurance policy was difficult – and frankly came down to dollars and cents. But it is a decision they are paying for now, as they find out most, if not all of the belongings inside their home will have to be replaced – at great expense – out of their own pocket.
“My son’s bed. His dresser. All his toys, that any seven year old would have, ya know, his action figures, everything. All his clothes, gone,” Chris Bowden told Pix11’s Jay Dow.
Like any proud father and homeowner, Staten Island resident Bowden can recall in great detail, the life his family used to live, and what was in it. Fortunately, no life was lost in his home.
The NYPD sergeant – a 14-year department veteran knows what is most important, and he is well aware that the things washed away during hurricane Sandy were just that…things.
But practically speaking – rebuilding the Bowden’s life will require new things.
“The bathroom was only a couple of years redone. It was actually like a group project. It was me and my brother and my father before he passed away. We fixed the bathroom, ya know,” said Bowden.
New fixtures. New clothing. New furniture.
But Bowden could not afford to insure those things, “contents” in insurance lingo.
Dow asked Bowden if he did what he could do on his salary. He responded, “Absolutely. I’m not rich. Far from it. Ya know. You achieve things in life, you buy things. And when you see this happen, you lose all your stuff. How do recover from that?”
Bowden’s brother James pays about $300 a year for $11,000 in contents coverage. Enough, he estimates, to cover one room in his home. With eight rooms in James’ house, if you wanted to cover every one of those rooms, it would have cost $2,400 a year. That is on top of James’ two other mandatory insurance polices.
“My basic flood was approximately $1,700 a year. And I also had $800 a year for my homeowners policy,”said James Bowden.
Chris Bowden added, “Everything. It’s all gone. They don’t cover any of that. They just pretty much tell ya, just start rebuilding your life again.”
Bowden is trying to do just that. But he says he is getting the run around from his Homeowners and Flood Insurance carriers, and FEMA.
“They just told me they could help me with some living assistance. Some rent assistance – because I have insurance,” said Bowden.
FEMA Spokesman Ed Conley tells Pix11 while the agency – by law – can only offer aid not provided by insurance, homeowners are able to get contents grant assistance. That is only after they have been declined by the Small Business Administration for a low interest loan, and then only if they have not exhausted the total limit $31,900 in disaster housing assistance.
“FEMA is not an insurance company. What we’re looking at is what can we do to get you into some kind of safe temporary housing situation. FEMA assistance does not make you whole. It’s designed to get you back on your feet,” said Conley.
Chris Bowden, says he is still down for the count – knocked out by Hurricane Sandy.
“It’s just difficult. But you’re still paying mortgage for a house you’re not living in,” said Bowden.
As Bowden continues his search for answers, he has been given some information – and it is not encouraging. His flood insurance adjuster estimates it will be at least six to eight months before he is back in his home.