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Flooded home not considered total loss by FEMA, creating insurance issues

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CENTRAL - A homeowner thought he was covered by insurance when his home flooded in August. Now he's learned that's not exactly the case.

Like many others, Herb Cornelius bought a home and purchased flood insurance. His home received 50 inches of water during the flood. The house is two feet below base flood but until now it's never flooded.

FEMA says parts of the home were left untouched by flood water and remain undamaged. As a result, it will not max out Cornelius' insurance policy and will only pay for what was damaged.

"The damage to fix the house is 95-percent of the value of the house," said Cornelius.

The house, on Chivre Ave. in Central, was declared substantially damaged by the city and by FEMA. Cornelius says his property value was just higher than the damage loss, resulting in a difference of about $7,000. FEMA found the house was 95 percent damaged.

FEMA and the City of Central is requiring the house be raised or demolished. Cornelius says the cost to raise is home is about $143,000. The max payout the homeowner can get from the insurance company is about $210,000, but because FEMA says the roof and the brick was not damaged, the insurance company will not pay all of it, instead offering $149,000.

"If FEMA's telling me I have to tear it down, then it is 100 percent loss and I should be paid my entire policy," said Cornelius.

He equates it to totaling a car and then insurance not paying for it because the radio still works.

For now, Cornelius is stuck with few options.

FEMA says there are grants that will later become available to help cover the cost of raising a house.

 

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