Nearly five months after record shattering rainfall caused historic flooding in South Carolina, Mike, and Pegge Schall (70) are still living in a mold infested home, with doors that do not open, and no heat or air conditioning.
“We have not gotten a dime from FEMA to repair the house, or fix anything,” said Mike Schall.
The couple were evacuated by boat from their Summerville home, in the Ashborough neighborhood. Water from the Ashley River surged to within inches of the windows, and swamped their HVAC system. Mold is visible throughout the house, and the floors are now pitched, and uneven. Schall says, the pier columns under the house shifted from the strength of the current.
For 39 years they paid for flood insurance, but Schall says FEMA’s first reimbursement offer was laughable. Contractors told them it would cost $130,000 to fix all of the damage.
FEMA’s original offer…$3,200.
“Thirty-nine years of paying flood insurance and we have a flood and call FEMA, and they tell me to go take out a small business loan,” he said.
The News 2 I-Team questioned FEMA Flood Insurance Director Roy Wright back in October about fears some victims had about underpayment problems that plagued the agency following Superstorm Sandy in the northeast. Wright, said at the time, FEMA would intervene to make sure victims get every dollar they are entitled to through their policy.
“We have the right kind of quality control elements in place. But fundamentally, I have confidence in the system we have in place to ensure the oversight in South Carolina so that people are paid properly,” said Wright.
The agency would not comment on the specifics of the Schall’s case because they have hired an attorney to take up the fight.
However, they sent us a statement saying:
FEMA cannot make survivors whole again after a disaster – but we can help them get back on their feet. Thousands of South Carolinians have successfully relied on flood insurance to protect themselves financially after this disaster and get back on the road to recovery. We encourage anyone with questions or doubts about their policies to contact us for additional support on their claims they feel it is needed. Simply put – we are not satisfied until every policyholder receives every dollar they are owed under their flood insurance policy. -FEMA Spokesperson
After the I-Team started asking questions about the Schalls’ case, the original reimbursement offer of $3,200, increased to about $30,000, with the assurance they can resubmit as they progress in their recovery.