Hurricane Ida Hits 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, NY – Torrential rains and winds caused severe flooding in New York City on Wednesday when Tropical Storm Ida hit all five boroughs.

The storm dragged badly damaged and abandoned vehicles onto flooded roads which are slowly being towed away on Thursday. Residents of Staten Island shared their photos and videos of their flooded basements and homes, as well as rivers of water flowing down their residential streets.

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

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

And as the storm left Staten Island, the sequel persists, as residents and traders assess the damage.

But unless you have flood insurance on your home or renter’s insurance, it’s likely that loss of property 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 area, residents without flood insurance could be out of luck trying to secure funds for replacement and clean-up efforts.

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

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

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) also called on President Joe Biden to release the statement to provide federal support for New York State and City.

“It is now clear that flooding from Tropical Depression Ida was worse than that from Tropical Storm Henri, and even claimed several lives in New York City,” she said in a statement. “There has been rampant flooding in 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 to provide financial assistance to the city, state and to affected residents.

Hochul said at a press conference Thursday that in a call with the White House, President Joe Biden offered all the help New York State needs and guaranteed he would approve a declaration of emergency.

“I told him we’ll talk to him about this, and what happens next, we’ll do field damage assessments with FEMA teams, our local partners, and make sure we get true accounting of the loss,” Hochul said, adding that the president promised he would approve any statement to “get the money to New York.”

As it is likely that the declaration of loss will be made, local residents will be able to file a claim for FEMA Disaster Assistance even if you don’t have flood insurance.


It is important to note that you must first file an insurance claim before you can file a claim with FEMA – even if you know your claim will not be covered by insurance.

You should report the claim to your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible. A claims adjuster can be appointed to work with you throughout the claims process. The expert can call to schedule a time to inspect your property in person or remotely in a few days.

Be sure to document anything damaged by floodwater or sewage. Take photos and videos and keep damaged items for proof, if necessary.

You can then request individual assistance for damages caused by the claim online.

You can apply for grants from FEMA if the county (in this case it would be New York or individual boroughs) is nominated for individual assistance. For those who qualify, FEMA Disaster Assistance can help cover uncovered expenses such as temporary housing assistance or other needs.

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

To learn more, to see if you are 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 allow you to continue if early bird registration is open for your state or county. Your request 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 flooding is not provided in standard homeowner or unit policies. This coverage is available under a separate policy issued with the National Flood Insurance Program.

If you have flood insurance, you can still apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance.

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

1. Start an insurance claim

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

A claims adjuster will be appointed to work with you throughout the claims process. The expert will call you to schedule a time to inspect your property in person or remotely in a few days. You can ask for an advance payment, but note that advance payments are deducted from the final claim payment.

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

2. Document your loss

Return to your home or property only when safe.

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

3. Start cleaning

Keep samples of flood-damaged items like carpets and other floor coverings, curtains, etc. to show them to your fitter, says FEMA. After taking photos and videos of damaged items, dispose of flood-damaged content that may pose a health threat.

FEMA says it’s your responsibility to do everything you can to prevent the growth and spread of mold.

4. Meet your claims adjuster

When you meet with your flood adjuster, ask to see their flood control number card and any other government-issued identification. Your adjuster will provide advice and work with you to submit an estimate of your covered loss.

Direct all your questions to the adjuster to ensure that you are paid all you are entitled to for your loss. When you receive the written estimate and adjuster’s report, be sure to check it for accuracy.

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

5. Receive payment

The amount of your claim payment will be based on the supporting documents you provide and what is covered by your policy.

It is your responsibility to submit the information in support of your claim and to meet the required deadlines. If you still have questions or additional damage to report, contact your flood insurance company’s claims department to discuss any disputed amounts or coverage issues with a claims examiner.

It may be helpful to consult and obtain quotes from general contractors.

If you have a mortgage, your claim check will be written in your name and the name of the mortgage company.


Darcy J. Skinner