Flood damage expected to cause legal problems for victims

First of a four-part series

As the waters recede, the number of legal problems caused by the flood of ’93 will start to rise. A number of options can help reduce losses to homes damaged by flood water.

Water may have ruined much of the house, but, unfortunately, the obligation to repay home mortgages remains.

Even if the damage was so severe that homeowners are forced to live somewhere else, they still have a duty to repay their lender. Lenders will probably grant some leeway in making payments.

The Missouri Bar Association urges flood victims to check with lenders; let them know about the damage. Many companies offer a grace period, allowing a delay in payment for several months. Interest on mortgages may continue to add up, but at least victims gain some time to get back on their feet.

Those who are unable to make mortgage payments and have received a foreclosure notice may be eligible for federal funds. Those people who are unable to make mortgage payments because of financial hardships caused by the floods may qualify for benefits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). To apply for FEMA benefits call 1-800-462-9029. The hearing and speech impaired should dial 1-800-462-7585.

Flood victims could consider another option: filing for bankruptcy. Those who have income and want to keep their house may be able to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy would allow flood victims to keep their house while making lower monthly payments on their mortgage. Consult a lawyer before considering this option.

Some homes have been damaged so severely that no one can live in them until they are repaired. Usually, these homeowners are eligible to receive money for living expenses from their insurance companies.

Those people who don’t have homeowner’s insurance may be eligible for a grant under the Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program.

To apply for funds cake the FEMA numbers listed above.