Thursday, November 30 was the final day of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. A new book by a former federal disaster inspector might be a good addition to the preparations Florida residents make for next year’s storm season.
Julie Beller has seen some of the worst that Mother Nature can dish out when it comes to storm-connected flooding events.
“I started with Hurricane Katrina and as a FEMA inspector,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference and I have a lot of compassion for those people and everything that happened to them. And I constantly heard people say to me while inspecting, ‘If I only knew then what I know now, I would have done it differently.’”
After Katrina, Beller left FEMA and got her insurance adjuster’s license in the state of Texas, giving her the authority to do that work in 30 states nationwide. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008, Beller was doing windstorm adjusting in a small coastal Texas town.
“During that time I met a couple named Tony and Jody. And Tony and Jody are the first people I talk about in the first chapter of how they went from $2,000 to $42,000 on their flood insurance claim.”
They were able to do that, Beller pointed out, because the settlement was legally available to them.
“The National Flood Insurance Program wants to pay you,” she asserted. “It’s not like some insurance companies that try to cut you off.”
But the problem, added Beller, is that in the wake of disasters, the feds have to hire temporary adjusters who may not be fully aware of how flood damages are calculated.
“I really think it’s important that we educate people who are paying a premium and they should know that when that person comes out to do their adjusting of their property on that damage that they might not know how to read an elevation certificate and that can definitely impact your claim and how much you’ll receive.”
That’s why Beller wrote her book, “Show Me the Flood Money.” In it, she talks about such things as elevation certificates, how to file flood damage claims and deal with adjusters and the Federal Flood Insurance Program. There is also lots of information when it comes to rebuilding after the flood.
“I talk about contractors and how to pick a contractor because a lot of them come from out-of-state when it’s a big disaster and how are you supposed to know if they do quality work. And I go into detail on how they can do research and what web sites you can check and one of the contractor’s background information that one can check is through: www.contractorcheck.com. It’s affiliated with Experian, and there’s another one: www.contractors-license.org. Or for us Florida residents, there’s the disaster contractors’ network portal.”
Other topics include how to prepare before the disaster strikes and accessing an entire range of public and private emergency response services. Beller said it’s as comprehensive a work as she could produce, while still making it a concise, easy to understand handbook.
“I’m partial,” she admitted. “A lot of time went into it. Over 9 years. But I hit a lot of topics and had a lot of help and I had a lot of help and I’m very grateful for that. And it will help people. That’s a fact.”
Because there is another fact Beller worries about; that flooding events will only get more intense and numerous as time goes on, simply based on her experience.
“This isn’t my specialty at all when it comes to environment and climate change and yes I use the words ‘climate change’ and ‘sea rise’. But I believe so. In my personal opinion, yes!”
“Show Me the Flood Money”, by former FEMA inspector, now Tallahassee-based independent expert flood consultant Julie Beller.