After The Fire
Today is the 18th Monday since we sat in a hotel watching in horror as our neighborhood burned to the ground, and although we would later count ourselves among the lucky ones because our homes were still standing–we didn’t lose everything–the irony is that we, the #JE44, are the ones who have been in limbo all this time. Here are the facts.
Because our homes are still standing, the insurance payout was only limited to the policy cap of additional living expenses due to displacement, which was on average $6,582.
Insurance also paid to repair physical damage, cleanup of smoke damage, property loss, and spoiled food–which essentially means that once we are able to use our homes again, we will pay the difference between the actual cost to repair and replace, since the insurance companies payout based on their estimates of fair market value at the time of the incident. The fact is, the actual cost has skyrocketed because of the enormous demand for materials and services.
FEMA denied housing assistance because we had insurance. For those still living in a FEMA motel, their time runs out soon and they have to file an appeal based on being “under insured”. None of us knew we were under insured. We all thought, “No problem, I have insurance!” Many of my neighbors are in dire straits because they cannot use their home–utilities have not been restored and the owner of the park is trying to sell the land, and the buyer is promising to build “affordable” housing (highly unlikely that the legal requirement of this new “affordable” housing will match what we had, which was less than $700/month including utilities).
Basically, our retirement homes were destroyed and they’re not coming back, and even though we had insurance, our losses were not covered because technically the insurance company did not have to move our homes, and legally we cannot force the land owner or the buyer to restore what was.
Let this be a warning to everyone who thinks they’re covered. We all would have been better off if we had no insurance at all–every one of our neighbors who had no insurance was eligible for FEMA housing assistance.
After four months, we still have no idea what is going to happen to our homes.
“Can’t you move it?” One neighbor received a quote of $60,000 to move their double-wide custom home. Another neighbor received a quote of $13,000 to move a single-wide less than 30 miles away. There are no available sites within 100 miles.
So 44 families are still in limbo because the park owner and the prospective buyer won’t tell us what they are planning. This feels wrong.
Journey’s End … Before & After