Hurricane Ida slams NYC: Here’s how to file a FEMA claim

[Update Sept. 4: Here is an updated story about filing a claim with FEMA]

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Torrential rain and winds caused severe flooding across New York City on Wednesday when Tropical Storm Ida hit the five boroughs.

The storm led to severely damaged and abandoned vehicles on flooded roads that are slowly getting towed on Thursday. Staten Islanders shared their photos and videos of their basements and homes flooded, along with rivers of water flowing down their residential streets.

There were so many 911 calls for motorists trapped inside their vehicles — the locations of which were “too many to mention,” one law enforcement source told the Advance/

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Twitter declared a state of emergency in New York City late Wednesday night. Gov. Kathy Hochul also declared a state of emergency in New York State, within the counties of Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.

And while the storm has departed Staten Island, the aftermath lingers, as residents and business owners assess the damage..

But unless you have flood insurance on your homeowners or renters insurance, it’s likely that property loss won’t be covered due to flooding from the storm.

Unless the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the president approve a major disaster declaration for the New York City area, residents without flood insurance could be out of luck trying to get funds for replacement and cleanup efforts.

New York State senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are urging FEMA to quickly approve the major disaster declaration for parts of New York State that were ravaged by Tropical Storm Ida, including New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley communities.

The decision to issue a disaster declaration is at the discretion of the president and must be requested by the governor of the state.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) also called on President Joe Biden to issue the declaration to provide federal support to New York state and city.

“It is now clear that flooding from tropical depression Ida was worse than that of tropical storm Henri, and has even led to multiple deaths in New York City,” she said in a statement. “There has been rampant flooding throughout homes, businesses, subway stations, and streets. Governor Hochul has already declared a state of emergency, and it is imperative that President Biden authorize FEMA to alleviate the hardship and suffering caused by this storm and provide financial assistance to the city, state and residents affected.”

Hochul said during a press conference on Thursday that, during a call with the White House, President Joe Biden offered any assistance that New York State needs and guaranteed he would approve an emergency declaration.

“I told him we’ll take him up on that, and what happens, next, we’ll be doing on-the-ground assessments of the damage with the FEMA teams, our local partners, and making sure we get a true accounting of the loss,” Hochul said, adding that the president promised he’ll approve any declaration to “get the money flowing to New York.”

As it’s likely that the disaster declaration will be made, residents will be able to file a claim for FEMA disaster assistance even if you don’t have flood insurance.


It’s important to note that you first need to file an insurance claim before you can file a claim through FEMA — even if you know your claim will not be covered by insurance.

You should report the loss to your insurance agent or company promptly. An insurance adjuster may be assigned to work with you throughout the claims process. The adjuster may call to set up a time to inspect your property in-person or remotely within a few days.

Be sure to document everything that was damaged by floodwaters or sewage. Take photos and videos and keep damaged items to show proof, if necessary.

You’ll then be able to apply online for individual assistance for damages due to the disaster.

You can apply for grants from FEMA if the county (in this case, it would be New York City or individual boroughs) is named for individual assistance. For eligible individuals, FEMA disaster assistance may help with uncovered expenses like temporary housing assistance or other needs.

FEMA may provide up to $33,000 for home repair. A homeowner can also apply for a Small Business Administration disaster loan for additional repair assistance.

To learn more, to see if you’re eligible, and to apply, visit or call 800-621-3362.

If your address is not currently in a declared area, you may still be able to apply online now. The system will let you proceed if early registration is open for your state or county. Your application will be processed if your county is added to an active declaration.


According to the New York State Department of Financial Services, insurance coverage for losses resulting from floods is not provided in standard homeowners or unit policies. This coverage is available under a separate policy issued with the National Flood Insurance Program.

If you have flood insurance, you may still be able to apply for FEMA disaster assistance.

Here’s what to do if your basement or home has flooded and you have flood insurance, according to FEMA.

1. Start an insurance claim

If your property has flooded, promptly report the loss to your insurance agent or company.

An insurance adjuster will be assigned to work with you throughout the claims process. The adjuster will call to set up a time to inspect your property in-person or remotely within a few days. You can ask to get an advance payment, but note that advance payments are deducted from the final claim payment.

If you need help finding your insurance carrier, call 877-336-2627.

2. Document your loss

Return to your home or property only when it’s safe.

Take as many photos and videos of your flood-damaged home and personal property as possible. For appliances and electronics, take a photograph of the make, model, and serial number to share with your adjuster.

3. Begin the cleanup

Keep samples of flood-damaged items like carpet and other flooring, curtains, etc. to show your adjuster, FEMA says. After you take photos and videos of the damaged items, throw out flood-damaged contents that may pose a health threat.

FEMA says it is your responsibility to do all you can to prevent the growth and spread of mold.

4. Meet with your adjuster

When you meet your flood insurance adjuster, ask to see their Flood Control Number card and other official identification. Your adjuster will provide guidance and work with you to submit an estimate for your covered loss.

Direct any questions to the adjuster to ensure you get paid everything you are entitled to for your loss. When you receive the adjuster’s written estimate and report, be sure to review for accuracy.

The insurance adjuster will never ask you for money, collect your deductible amount, or charge you a fee for services.

5. Receive payment

Your claim payment amount will be based on the supporting documentation you provide and what’s covered by your policy.

It’s your responsibility to submit information that supports your claim and to meet required deadlines. If you still have questions or additional damage to report, contact the claims department at your flood insurance company to discuss any disputed amount or coverage issue with a claims examiner.

Consulting with and getting estimates from general contractors can be helpful.

If you have a mortgage, your claim check will be written out to you and the mortgage company.


Zubair Q Britania

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