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A lesson on flood insurance and how to get local FEMA help in person

It is too late for property owners to get a flood policy that will cover damage from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, but insurance companies are still warning people to get coverage if another flood strikes.

Some residents throughout Horry County still have floodwaters in their homes, while others have seen the water recede and are beginning to gut their houses.

State Farm spokeswoman Michal Brower said a flood insurance policy normally takes 30 days from the date of purchase to go into effect.

“So don’t wait until a flood is imminent to buy a policy,” she said. “Flooding is a reminder about the importance of conducting an annual insurance review with your agent to make sure you have the proper coverage.”

For the flood victims who have flood coverage, insurance companies urge people to take photos of their homes and businesses as water recedes and make temporary repairs that would prevent further damage as long as it’s safe. People also are asked to file a claim as soon as possible so an adjuster can come and assess the property.

Victims with coverage prior to flooding could be reimbursed for making temporary repairs to their property depending on their coverage plan. Insurance companies caution folks to save their receipts.

Flooding is not generally covered by regular homeowners policies, Brower said. Flood insurance is purchased primarily from the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal program through FEMA, through insurance agents nationwide.

Phillip Todd, vice president of Richardson & Associates Inc, a local insurance agency, said any home could be impacted by flooding. And those who were not covered before the Hurricane Florence aftermath can still get help.

“Those people who did have flood damage with no flood insurance can still contact FEMA for federal disaster assistance but typically they will receive an interest-bearing loan,” he said.

Todd also said people should file a claim as quickly as possible so an adjuster can come to assess the property. When filing a claim, he said, the insurance company asks you to mention all that’s damaged and that is what the adjuster reviews during a visit to the property. And those whose homes were flooded without insurance can still be covered if they decide to purchase insurance after their home flooded, he said.

If a home is damaged in a flood and the homeowner received federal disaster assistance, NFIP says flood insurance should still be purchased.

According to the NFIP website, “If you live in a high-risk Special Flood Hazard Area and have received disaster assistance in the form of a federal grant or loan, you must purchase and maintain flood insurance for as long as you live there. If you are a homeowner and you sell the building, you are required to inform the new owner of the necessity to purchase and maintain flood insurance. Failure to maintain flood insurance—for both renters and homeowners—could result in the denial of future federal disaster assistance.”

Here’s how to be ready for a FEMA inspection.

FEMA announced Monday a recovery relief center has opened at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, 2050 U.S. 501, Conway, to offer in-person support to people and businesses in the county that have been impacted by Hurricane Florence and the subsequent floods. The center will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Recovery specialists from South Carolina, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration will be at the centers to talk through assistance and help survivors who need help in finding recovery resources.

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong

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