SBP is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping residents and communities recover from disaster in a prompt, efficient and predictable way. We are driven by the idea there is a human toll to a delayed recovery, one that can bring victims to their breaking point.
Sharing in our mission are partners like Toyota, Zurich, UPS and Farmers Insurance, who support long-term disaster recovery by providing skill-based, volunteer and financial support. Hurricane Harvey struck particularly close to home for Toyota, which has its national headquarters in Plano and a truck plant in San Antonio. The company stepped up and donated $1 million to SBP for our long-term recovery work in Texas.
After 11 years of helping eight different disaster-affected communities to recover, SBP has learned some lessons that I’d like to share in hope it will help homeowners:
I met a woman whose husband deployed to Iraq two weeks after Hurricane Isaac ravaged Slidell, La. Trying to ensure his wife and two young children would be safe in his absence, he wanted to do whatever he could before he left. That led to paying a company his entire FEMA payment of $8,000 to remediate mold and provide a “certificate” of proof.
• Mold remediation should not cost thousands of dollars.
• Mold certificates may be required by your builder for liability reasons, but you can remediate mold yourself (or with volunteers) and then get a certificate later.
Follow SBP’s guide to DIY mold remediation and supplies needed — don’t use bleach!
FEMA & SBA
The FEMA/SBA application process is confusing and frustrating, especially for many of our clients who are hesitant to ask for help in the first place. FEMA typically gives an initial payout to help with immediate needs, then points you to apply for an SBA loan for long-term rebuilding. You are your own best advocate — be as detailed as possible about disaster losses. You can’t get assistance for losses and needs your insurance, SBA or FEMA doesn’t know about.
• You can/should appeal decisions if you are denied or offered insufficient amounts for FEMA/SBA.
• Document everything — take pictures of damages, keep copies of all forms and communications.
SBP is still rebuilding homes in New Orleans, 12 years after Katrina. Eighty percent of our clients today suffered some sort of contractor fraud when they tried to rebuild.
• Only hire experienced contractors — ask for references.
• Always insist on written bids and estimates.
• Read your contract and ask questions before signing.
• Never pay in full or up front; pay in increments.
The first action SBP takes in any disaster-affected community is to share recovery guides on these and other topics to help homeowners avoid common recovery pitfalls. These guides can be found at sbpusa.org/start-here or 504-277-6831.