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Hurricane Ike Update

by Ryan Guina

Yesterday I wrote about the aftermath of Hurricane Ike and the effects it had in the Houston area and other states as the storm traveled north. I called my parents yesterday, and they made it home safely. Thankfully their house wasn’t too damaged by Hurricane Ike. Their fence was destroyed, their house experienced roof damage (it appears to be mostly cosmetic, not structural), and there was some water damage around the windows and on some of the floors.

Even though they have double paned storm windows, the force of the winds caused water to leak around the edges of the windows. They may have to replace several window sills and possibly a few windows. They called their insurance agent and filed a claim and are now waiting for the claims adjuster to come out. Hurricane and storm insurance is a tricky beast, and there are certain limitations to the kinds of damage the insurance will cover. Hopefully they won’t be left to foot the majority of the bill themselves.

Federal Disaster Areas and FEMA

My parents’ home is located about 16 miles inland, so there was still plenty of force when the hurricane made landfall. Their house was located in a mandatory evacuation zone, and the area has been declared a federal disaster area. This could be an important factor when determining what, if any, federal aid they may receive from FEMA.

The good news is that their house is well built and it weathered the storm well. Their neighbor’s house a few blocks over didn’t fare as well. He had major roof damage and the rainfall caused several ceilings to cave in, and caused major water damage to the floors and walls. His house is in the same subdivision, but was built by a different home builder. Many of the houses built by the same builder experienced similar roof damage. Of course, it may not be the builder’s fault, it could be a result of the storm’s path.

Gas, food, and other supplies are tight

Most places are still without power, including grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses. There are a few gas stations with power, but the lines are several blocks long as people are trying to fuel their cars and generators. There are several distribution points for food, water, and ice, all of which are being trucked into the area and are being distributed to residents in need.

Still no power

My parents are still without electricity, and they may be without it for another 2-3 weeks. They are lucky though, because they have a gas stove and a gas water heater, so they can cook and take warm showers. The boil water advisory was lifted yesterday, so they can drink the tap water again. They just won’t have refrigeration or lights for a couple weeks.

They are using hurricane lamps (oil lamps) for lighting and have a cooler set up to keep food cool, but right now they are having a hard time finding ice. Ice is being trucked in from all over the state, but it is a matter of finding it. So for now they are eating small meals like canned chicken or tuna, which won’t leave much in the line of leftovers.

FEMA reimburses some generator costs

My parents are looking into buying a generator, but again, they are difficult to find, prices are at a premium, and obtaining fuel is test in patience. FEMA will reimburse generator costs for some people, but not in all cases.

From the FEMA FAQ page:

I was told that FEMA would reimburse me up to $800 for the purchase of generator, is that true?

FEMA reviews requests for reimbursement of the cost of a generator on a case-by-case basis. The maximum eligible reimbursable amount is based on a determination of the median cost of a generator sufficient to power an average-sized home. You will not be eligible for reimbursement if you purchased the generator after your power was restored.

I need to call them today and let them know the situation, because they heard this from a rumor, and there wasn’t any qualifying information given – the rumor simply stated that FEMA would reimburse people up to $800 for a generator.

Don’t buy a generator for the sole reason that you think FEMA will reimburse you. You may not be reimbursed and you may be taking a generator someone else may need for medical conditions such as respirators, dialysis machines, and more. If you need the generator you should certainly buy it, just be aware that a reimbursement is not automatic. Here is more information about how to file a FEMA disaster assistance claim.

Life will return to normal

…it will just take awhile. My parents are looking at 2-3 weeks without power, and minor repairs to their home. Others have more major repairs to face, and still others, such as my best friend, lost everything. Still, I have a feeling that for most people, life will return to normal. Most people will rebuild if possible, and some will move away never to return. But I think it will take a much stronger storm than Ike to break the spirit of a city that is as proud as Houston.

A thousand miles to the north and east, things are also returning to normal. My wife and I got power again last night after 24 hours without electricity, but about half the area is still without power. There are a few places where it is not expected back until Friday or so. Many of the gas stations and restaurants are coming back to life, but about half are still closed. It is an eerie sensation to drive along unlit roads and stop at every stoplight and treat it like a 4 way stop sign because the stop lights are without power. The schools are still closed and may be throughout the week. For us, the cleanup is much easier, and the talk around the water cooler a little lighter. We have it easy compared to those in the Houston and Galveston area, and for this we are blessed.


Published or updated January 2, 2009.
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Zhu

I really feel sorry for those who were hit by the hurricane. It must feel terrible to know it’s coming and not being able to do much but evacuate/ stay home and hope it’s gonna be alright.

I guess some Florida residents are used to it because it gets hit so often, the same way Californian are prepared to earthquakes and we expect heavy snow storm. Still.

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2 No Debt Plan

Glad to hear everything is relatively okay with your parents! Enjoying the updates.

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3 Danelle Szary

I am on disability, and been on disability since June 21st, 2008. I lost electricity on September 13th, Sat. The time was around 5:30 P.M. and it was restored on Friday, the 19th. I was without electricity for 7 days, and I want to know what reimbursements I am due to this fact. I could not go buy a generator, simply not enough funds, I was without electricity, and being on disability this was very devastating for me. I have been without medication since the 15th, and in dire assistance of medication since I could not drive in this weather. I lost everything in my refrigerator, and sent my daughter to get me some groceries for me two days before the hurricane hit. I have a receipt for $223.23 for the amount she spent, and it all was ruint. I registered with FEMA on September the 19th,2008 and gave them the damages that were done to my dwelling,which was my leaking roof, I would like answers as to which FEMA will reimburse me for being on disability, and my groceries, as well as my medication. I do have a application on file with Fema, but would like some answers on these situations. this was the storm “IKE”.

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4 Ryan

Danielle,

Thank you for contacting me. I am sorry to hear about how Hurricane Ike affected you, and I hope that you are able to get your medication soon, and get your home repaired quickly.

As for your FEMA claim, I don’t have any answers. The information I wrote on my site is simply that – information to help people find answers to their questions. I do not actually work for FEMA or any other government agency. Since you have already filed a claim with FEMA, there is not much else I can recommend, other than to have patience. The FEMA claims process can take several weeks because there are literally hundreds of thousands of claims, and a limited number of resources to work with.

Your best option right now is to contact FEMA if you have urgent needs that need attention. I wish you and your family the best.

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5 Mary@SimplyForties

I read an article the other day, which mentioned that since Ike had been knocked off the headlines due to the financial crises, organizations like the Red Cross were finding it hard to raise money to help the survivors. I sent one of those e-mails going around with the Ike pictures to some of my friends and the majority of them had no idea it was THAT bad. Although far from Houston, we live in Texas! If we aren’t aware of how bad it is, I wonder what the rest of the country thinks. Pretty scary.

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6 Ryan

Mary,

I lived in that area for several years and still have family and friends in that area, so I paid attention to it. But the storm may not have captured the nation’s attention as much as it could have, because it carved a path of destruction from the gulf of Mexico all the way up to Pennsylvania. I live in OH, and we had major wind damage in our area and some people were without electricity for well over a week.

It is hard for some people to think about donating money to storm victims across the country when there is major damage in their region as well. Ike was bad, but I’m thankful it wasn’t as bad as it was predicted!

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7 lisa

I live in Porter, Texas and we lost out home due to the roof coming off, Entergy would not connect service back to the structure either so we were told to move out we lost alot & household items. I was able to save my kids pictures and some small things from the house also my computer. So I am greatful for the small things, it could have been much worse we could have died it was a tornado that hit in our area. So thank God we are here.. FEMA granted rental assistance to us in the amount of 1404.00. Lost what we have and get any help is a true blessing, I am thankful for FEMA. But, the amount they deposited into our bank the bank took the money for bank fees ( overdrafts ) Prior to the storm my husband took payday loan, we were already having a hard time, our youngest in college and our oldest a firefighter paying child support and having to help where we can and paying our stuff. It got to be alot, so we took payday and I wish we had not. But we did and well we were displaced and didnt have money paying for food, fuel and so on for the 2-3 weeks and more we were trying to get a place to stay. Anyway, the bank allowed this payday company to make drafts against our account 35+times in a few days and caused our account to overdraft for 1325.00. The bank made a withdrawl and covered the overdrafted account. All money for the bank , they paid nothing on the items hitting the bank and we lost our place, all our things, lost our FEMA money made a loan to Rent the place we are staying in at the moment from the boss who charged us interest and is taking over 200.00 out of each pay check until the balance is paid. Having problems buying food because we are over income for disaster stamps, trouble having feul to get too work and just plain do not know what to do or where to go for the help we need so badly. This Hurricane has been many many disasters for us. I am still in shock about the bank taking the FEMA money that was to go on the rent for two months, it is amazing how little they give a crap for the customer. I would agree with well maybe 5 even ten times it hit and the charged 35 but it seems they ran it up to the deposited amount just to take it. Very shocking.. We really do not know what to do or where to go for simple assistance such as food. Do you know where those who make a little over the required amount for food stamps can get assistance? We are severly behind now on bills and just need help with even just food to survive. Things really suck right now, but I know there will be better days as time marches on it will take alot of time but we will get there. Pray for those families that have lost loved ones and those who have no home at all. GB us all thank you

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8 Ryan

Lisa: I am sorry to hear about your struggles. Hurricanes and other natural disasters are never easy to deal with. I pray that you and your family have your health and safety, which is always the most important thing. I don’t know why your bank would allow so many overdraft fees; that seems extremely unreasonable, and I would contact them and question them regarding that. I wish you and yours the best during these times.

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