|Date:||November 28, 2016|
GREEN COVESPRINGS, Fla. - A First Coast family says Thanksgiving at home wasn't an option this year, because their Clay County house is still badly damaged from Hurricane Matthew.
Fifty-one days after the storm, John Peters believes his zip code is part of the issue. Individuals in several Florida counties including Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Putnam and Flagler are eligible to apply for federal aid through FEMAif they are uninsured or underinsured.
While Clay County is bordered on three sides by eligible counties, FEMA has not included it as a county eligible to receive individual assistance.
On October 7, a large tree was blown onto the front portion of the Peters' Green Cove Springs one story house. The impact splintered their roof leaving gaping holes, each several feet wide. Water damage destroyed the drywall, roofing, and most of the items in their living room, kitchen and dining area.
Peters says he evacuated with his wife and teenage son immediately after the tree fell. After 33 days in a hotel with depleting funds and little help from insurance, he says they called non-profit agencies.
"Everyone told me to talk to FEMA, FEMA's handling that, FEMA's handling that," says Peters. "But FEMA told me Clay County isn't under the disaster yet. I don't know why because we had one."
Peters' insurance has offered just over $11,000 for the damage to his home, which Peters says his contractors deny will be enough. He says a public adjuster, that he later retained, assessed the damage at $34,000.
"My contractor said it was going to be ten thousand just for the roof," said Peters. "So I'm like, but that leaves me a thousand dollars to fix the rest, there's no way I can fix all that for $1,000."
He recently filed a claim against his insurance company with the state insurance board. He says it will be another 20 days for a response, and he's worried about how much longer his family can cram into half of a damaged house. Though several non-profits referred him to FEMA, he says a neighbor provided some gas and a chicken dinner, and Hearts for Homes provided his son with a new bed.
"To me, it's shocking because you think, 'oh you've got insurance, you're good, get everybody out and everybody safe,'" says Peters. "I just didn't think it'd be so hard to deal with the insurance."