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Sandy flood insurance claim review won’t be an easy process

fema meeting

US Senators from New York and New Jersey have been working for many months to get FEMA to admit that its contractors ripped-off Sandy victims by low-balling flood insurance claims. Finally FEMA agreed to review all flood claims of people who felt they were short-changed by the assessors. I was among those affected.

In short, the contractor I hired to do a damage assessment said that my small elevated home was “totaled” due to shifting and sinking pilings caused by flood waters. The county board of health then later said that my above-ground septic tank below the house that worked fine before Sandy was now not repairable. Yet the flood insurance assessor concluded that damage was minimal and settled my claim for only $1,200.

Today I spoke with the claim reviewer and realized that the review process may not be an easy solution. Now that 32 months have passed much of the evidence is gone. My memory is foggy about the details in the chaos that existed in those early days after the storm. I lacked the capacity to prove my claim then; I’m in an even weaker position today. I read this passage in recent coverage of the issue “George Kasimos, founder of the Sandy watchdog group Stop FEMA Now, believes that Sandy victims are better off hiring a lawyer to represent them. “I am of the firm belief that you should not go this alone,” Kasimos said. “People who just pick up the phone and do this themselves, I don’t think they will get the maximum they are entitled to.”” I agree. I should not try to do it alone again.

Their is no doubt that my modest house is in such bad shape that it needs to be replaced with another mobile or modular unit. The only question remaining is how to pay the $55,000 (or higher) cost now that my finances have been beat up so badly by the after-effects of Sandy. Only three years ago I could have written that check from my line of credit but no longer – Sandy repairs to the business have already chewed up all of the money that I’ve been able to gather.

One thing is certain: Sandy changed my life dramatically for the worse and the effects of its impact are not over yet.

For more see:

http://tonynovak.com/cpa/sandy-3-year-anniversary-where-am-i-now/

http://www.app.com/story/news/local/ocean-county/sandy-recovery/2015/06/05/sandy-insurance-lawyer/28550575/  (My underlying belief is “fooled me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. I think it would be unwise for me to attempt to handle this alone again).

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/06/fema_re-opens_claims_but_some_sandy_victims_say_no.html (interesting to note that other homeowners have the same reaction to stress that I’ve already reported to my claim reviewer)

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/disaster-assistance-tony-novak  (my latest rant on the topic)

3 thoughts on “Sandy flood insurance claim review won’t be an easy process

  1. What a frustrating, exhausting, and maddening experience, Tony. I heard about the corruption in the news, but knowing someone personally affected makes it even more infuriating.

    1. Yes Lynn. We all recognize that “disaster assistance was a disaster”. This has become the mantra of government and private sector.
      In another publication I wrote: “I was an average small business owner with little debt, good credit, and conservative finances on the day before the storm. Today, almost three years later after Sandy, I am financially insolvent, deeply in debt, under severe lifestyle stress that affects marital stability and family relationships and adversely impacts personal health. Here in our corner of rural southwest New Jersey all types of financial assistance for recovery were denied: homeowners insurance, flood insurance, FEMA, SBA, NJ Stronger, and so on, were all denied in Downe Township NJ. I am resolved to the possibility that I may never be able to move back into my home or reopen my business. It feels like the world just abandoned us to die a slow painful death in the wake of the storm. Now we are facing foreclosure by the township and prosecution and eviction by the county health department, we don’t know what to expect for our future. It’s a tough way to live. The mantra adopted by citizens and government officials alike here is “Disaster assistance was a disaster”. Although I’m not an expert on Katrina, it seems that more long term resources and options were available to dedicated hard working residents and business owners who wanted to rebuild. So I wish more attention could be focused on the long term financial impact of the storm on ordinary residents and business people.”
      State Senator Jeff Van Drew responded “Tony, Truly a powerful statement and well written.”
      All we can do is keep trying to get things back together over time.

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