Nearly one year after Super Storm Sandy hit the Connecticut shoreline, many families are still out of their homes and struggling to figure out how to pay for repairs.
In Fairfield, homeowners have learned the hard way that flood insurance policies aren't covering what they thought they would and federal grants aren't making up the difference.
"The financial stress is just unimaginable," said Ian Bass, whose family has been unable to return to their Lalley Boulevard home in Fairfield since Sandy hit.
So far, Bass said, they've received a $3,000 FEMA grant, but only after the money was initially denied. They've also received FEMA payments to cover part of the cost of their rent, but those payments have since capped out.
As for flood insurance, Bass says trying to settle with his company, Travelers Insurance, has been a nightmare.
"Travelers won't even come close. It's really pitiful," said Bass.
Bass hired two independent experts who put the estimated cost of flood-related repairs to his home at $275,000. Even though his policy covers up to $250,000 in damages, Travelers cut him a check for just $45,271, he said. The claim remains unresolved.
"You pay a fair price for flood insurance expecting that, God forbid, you ever need it that it will be there for you," said Bass.
Those numbers don't include what the family will have to spend to raise their home up to current standards.
Bass said estimates put that cost at a minimum of $175,000. FEMA does offer grants to help offset the cost, however the grant the Bass family is eligible to receive stands at just $30,000.
"The problem is the process that everybody's going through is broken," said Michael Tetreault, the Fairfield First Selectman.
Tetreault said the Bass family is not alone in their struggles. FEMA needs to simplify and improve its assistance program, and that flood insurance should cover enough for residents to fix the damage to their homes, he said.
"The way they have it set up may work for Florida, it may work for Louisiana, it doesn't work for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and it really doesn't work for Fairfield County," said Tetreault.
Right now, the Bass family is facing close to $400,000 in out-of-pocket costs, which they're unsure how to pay for at this point.
"It's terrible. It's tragic," said Bass.
Travelers officials said the company has been working with the Bass family since their claim was submitted, but that they're unable to talk specifics about the case because of privacy reasons.
The company also said it is following rules set by the federal government for what is covered under flood insurance policies.