What Buchanan County residents can expect after flood damage assessments

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 4:42 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Government emergency management teams finished their damage assessments in Buchanan County Friday.

FEMA and Buchanan County are now collaborating with the Commonwealth for a possible disaster declaration. Damage assessments were the first step for residents to receive federal aid after the devastating floods in mid-July.

The possibility of a disaster declaration would determine if residents without flood insurance would receive monetary relief for damage caused by the floods. Many of the residents WDBJ7 spoke with didn’t have flood insurance.

Residents with flood insurance are covered from the damages with or without a disaster declaration. Homeowners could claim up to $250,000 to start rebuilding.

FEMA’s public information officer explained how flood insurance could be crucial in natural disasters.

“It doesn’t matter if a disaster is declared; if you have flood damage you’re going to get paid out,” David Thomason said. “If you are the only home that’s destroyed in a disaster, you’re going to get paid out through flood insurance.”

Those without flood insurance would need a disaster declaration for federal relief. Thomason explained the payout is only a fraction of what flood insurance covers.

“The maximum payout would be just under $40,000, around $37,900 dollars, if a disaster was declared,” Thomason said. “The average pay out is $4,000.”

Without a disaster declaration and without flood insurance, residents are left to pay out of pocket. One Buchanan County community member explained how many residents don’t have flood insurance.

“A lot of homeowners insurance don’t cover stuff like this,” Rick Horn said. “You’ve got to have flood insurance.”

Some residents like Carl Owens got rid of flood insurance months before the July storms.

“We were pitted on two houses and it just got a little more than we wanted to pay so we just dropped it,” Owens said. “Probably a lot of people didn’t have insurance.”

Residents without insurance are now hoping a disaster declaration comes soon.

“We’ll make it but you know it would help if the government would do something,” James Mullins said. “We don’t have flood insurance because they said we weren’t in a flood plain.”

40% of flood insurance claims come from areas outside of high risk flooding zones in the United States. FEMA’s initial damage assessment does not guarantee a disaster declaration or federal aid, but it is the first step toward receiving the monetary relief.

FEMA doesn’t have a set timeline when Buchanan County can expect a disaster declaration because those assessments are now going back to the Commonwealth.

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