Sorry for the double up on posts, but I have had several people ask me about the letter we ended up sending to the congress people for help with “that house”.
I’m glad to say, it worked. Within the day of sending out the letter to three congress people, Congressman Pallone’s office was good enough to assist us. They even called us twice to make sure we got the assistance we needed. By the end of the day we had the check we needed to begin work and the next day – we had floors!
Never thought I’d be so excited for sub-flooring!
It’s beautiful, isn’t it!
And since I didn’t name our insurance company, I’m posting the letter here for those people:
“Our family bought a home in NJ while my husband was in school for the Navy. After graduation we were unable to sell it due to the housing bubble and hurting economy, and couldn’t refinance or use the military program to buy us out. Not wanting to go back on our contract, we’ve done everything possible to hold on to the home, including losing several thousands of dollars. We’ve worked in good faith to be good home owners, and now reluctant landlords.
We are now stationed in our home state, over 3000 miles away.
When hurricane Sandy came, it devastated the entire town where the home sits. The whole town was washed out under 7 ½ feet of water. Our home being raised higher than most, sustained “minor” damage comparatively – it’s still standing. However being over 100 years old, it could no longer hold out even under the “minor” 2 feet of water that made it in and buckled, warped, cracked and rusted. It’s livable, if we could only get the money to fix it.
Our renters, who hadn’t even been in the house long enough to unpack lost everything for the second time that year due to weather and held out for 3 months before finally giving up. I was amazed! Not only did they help us by being there for inspections and scheduling, they even apologized when they could no longer afford to pay for the hotel they had been staying in. With 3 more month to go until she delivered her little girl, I completely understood and wished them the best. In those 3 months we of course could not charge them rent and had to give back their deposit. However, they still can’t retrieve their possessions on the second and third floor because there is no first floor.
Our contractor, knowing our situation, showed up as soon as people were allowed back into the town to inspect our house and start cleaning and removal. He has been a champion for us and has dealt with things for us as much as he could. We wouldn’t have made it this far without him, but he can only do so much. He does have other jobs he needs to work on however and cannot wait for insurance to decide to pay us.
We are now 4 ½ months post Sandy and have a floor-less, wall-less, potentially molding home to show for our wait. With no protection from the snow, wind and environment from underneath. The second and third floors are now starting to show signs of problems that didn’t exist before due to moisture that the insurance company will not cover.
We’ve been doing our best to keep up with where the paperwork is and what we need to do to keep up our side of this process. We’ve made sure our payments were never late or short, we’ve done all the things that have been asked and yet…. we’re still without repairs. We even went so far as to take out a small personal loan to get things started and to show we were serious about getting it fixed.
After talking with the insurance company numerous times over the last several months and getting no answers other than “We haven’t seen your report yet.” we recently found out that we were on a list for “second homes”. Apparently meaning that we could afford to sit and wait – on a military salary. After sitting on our inspection report for 4 months, the adjuster, after much pushing finally sent in their report but yet, still we sit.
My husband is in one of two groups of ships out to sea now, serving on the USS John C. Stennis. This after being deployed to the same area last year. This means we’ll have seen him less than 1 ½ months in the last two years if he get’s home when he is actually supposed to. This is part of the job and normally, while it makes us miss him more and wouldn’t be an issue, however he’s starting to get worried about us at home. We’ve already stretched our budget further than we should have, paying for any extras out of groceries. Extras being our 18 year old’s birthday (no gifts) and our 11 year old’s 2 gifts (no party). We paid to put our two sick dogs down after Christmas with Christmas gift money and can’t afford to fix the check engine light on our van.
After talking with the insurance people several more times, and being reminded several more times that people are still homeless out there – which we feel extremely sad about, especially when they lost a home they loved and we’re still stuck with a house we can’t stand, that still doesn’t change the fact that they are able to get free food, free or low-cost housing due to their situation, money for loss of use of their house and government help, where as we are on the other side of the country where people don’t even know that there are still issues going on. We don’t get reduced food or housing, we still have to pay full rent, mortgage and insurance. We didn’t get help with Christmas. We can’t get help from the insurance company for loss of use even.
Where was the insurance companies compassion towards the homeless when our soon-to-be-expecting renters couldn’t find another place to live for the 3 months they stuck it out with us hoping for a fix (or even just a floor)? We know all too well how it was affecting the people who are there!
During a call to ask for the inspection report the adjuster asked “And how exactly, does this effect your husband’s job performance?” How exactly? To be 5000 miles away from your wife and kids for nearly 2 years is hard enough, but to also know that they are struggling financially because of insurance bureaucracy is even harder. Knowing that your wife has all the normal daily struggles, is raising the kids on her own, all the craziness and worries that come with deployment and now the added stress of following the paper trail of insurance, inspections, contractors, new laws, multiple phone calls to try to get some straight answers, renters issues and paying for it all from 3000 + miles away.
At this point we are left with two choices: Lose the house because we can no longer afford to pay for it in spite of all our efforts to keep it and deal with the financial repercussions that come with that or move out there and live in a house that has no floor, heat, electricity or water, all because the insurance company has dragged its feet.
I would love to get a job to help with the situation, but with about 4 months left to this duty station, employers are not willing to hire and train someone. We are literally stuck.
The small check they finally, just recently sent, can’t be used because it’s not large enough to cover any repairs and it has to be signed by my husband who they know is out to sea.
We have become second class citizens according to the insurance company because we are military stationed away from the house and may very well become homeless ourselves, with little understanding from them or the people around us, who don’t understand how bad the flooding was.
I’m not asking for anything special, for financial help or handouts. I’m asking for the insurance company to stop being dishonest. To stop the silly paperwork shuffle. I keep getting reminded that there was a disaster and there are hundreds of thousands of people in our situation, so one would think they would have a better system set up after Katrina so people wouldn’t have to “homeless” for 3, 4, 5, 6 months or more, or like my husband, wouldn’t have to worry about his family back home, while the insurance company shuffles their paperwork around to justify not paying.
The people in the town are my friends and neighbors, and my heart breaks when I see the devastation they’ve gone through – because 3000 miles away, we’re feeling it too. But now that they are back in their homes and getting back to normal, they are actually starting to feel bad for us and what we’re going through.”
This was truly our last resort – but it worked and we are VERY grateful for the assistance of Pallone’s office and for ALL the people – our contractor, realtor, former renters, friends that live there still and those of you who kept us in your thoughts and prayers, who helped us finally get this started. I feel very blessed to have so many amazing people in my life! My one last hope (other than the dang house would just float away) would be that all the people who still haven’t gotten the help we did, can find the people in their life that can assist them.