Category Archives: Natural Disasters

FEMA Extends Deadline For Hurricane Sandy-Related Claims To April 28

I recently had the pleasure of attending the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association, where I was scheduled to discuss Workers’ Compensation benefits, Social Security Disability, and give updates on Superstorm Sandy. While waiting to speak, I was privileged to hear a number of public officials speak who attended this meeting, including Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, State Senator Joe Addabbo, State Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder and New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich.  

The meeting, run by Civic Association President Roger Gendron, made it extremely clear that those living in the community and serving the community are the best resources when it comes to information regarding the aftermath of the Storm. Everyone involved is to be commended for not only their actions, but the dissemination of valuable information to those still trying to pick up the pieces. While it is clear that much remains to be done, it is also clear that there are many dedicated citizens and officials who want to offer assistance. 

For those still suffering from the after effects of Superstorm Sandy, I will provide a little background information on FEMA’s flood program. Since standard homeowners’ insurance does not cover flooding, in 1968 Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to help homeowners. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the program. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding. Many of you who reside in South Queens were severely affected. If you have sustained damage, you need to file a claim with FEMA, as they have extended their filing deadline again, this time to April 28, 2014. Therefore, make sure you file a proof of loss before that time.     

Many homeowners who filed were not satisfied with their FEMA experience. Part of the problem was the sheer volume of claims. If you do not believe you were paid fairly and timely, or were unreasonably denied, you need to act now by filing a claim against your insurance carrier. There is a one-year statute of limitations to file against the insurance carrier when it denied payment or disbursed a final check.  The time to act is now. 

It is almost a year and a half since this monster storm caused unprecedented destruction and death.  There are residents still displaced and those still waiting for much-needed relief. Contact your public officials and your local boards and associations for assistance. Get proper legal advice. Speak to those who have been through similar disasters. Know what to do in a future emergency. While we all pray that Superstorm Sandy was a once-in-a-lifetime storm, we also need to be ready in case of a repeat scenario. While no amount of preparation can protect us against certain catastrophes, it is a comfort when we know what to do in the face of these obstacles.   

As we enter one of the holiest seasons for both Christians and Jews, I would like to quote Rabbi Mark Geller who said “we note that it is the season of renewal. Like babies, springtime is God’s inescapable message that life should go on.”  

Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

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NJ Urges That Volunteers & Homeowners Protect Themselves During Storm Clean Up

Today’s post comes to us from guest author Jon Gelman of New Jersey. For more information about have your Superstorm Sandy-related insurance claim reviewed by our firm, please read our blog post.

Recently Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd urged those engaged in Hurricane clean up activities to make sure they protect themselves against environmental hazards that may be present in storm damaged homes and buildings. 

Mold, materials containing asbestos and lead-based paint may all be potential hazards in storm damaged buildings. Homeowners and volunteers conducting clean up or remediation work should ensure their safety by wearing protective equipment appropriate for the work they are doing. Protective equipment may include waterproof boots, gloves, goggles and a respirator.

“Homeowners doing clean up work and the volunteers assisting them are critical assets in New Jersey’s recovery efforts, but making sure they protect themselves is equally important,” said Commissioner O’Dowd.

“Homeowners and volunteers may not be familiar with the environmental hazards that may be present in storm damaged buildings or what the appropriate protective measures that are needed,” the Commissioner added.

Those involved in clean up activities should also check with their health care provider to determine if they need a booster shot or tetanus vaccination. Everyone should be immunized with a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis-containing vaccine. Individuals should receive a tetanus booster if they have not been vaccinated for tetanus during the past 10 years.

People who sustain a wound should check with their healthcare provider to determine if they need to be vaccinated, as the decision will depend on an assessment of the wound and the person’s past immunization history.

Below are some do’s and don’ts for clean up work:


  • Call a professional if you feel the work is too extensive
  • Talk to an environmental health professional about safety and working in a building that has been damaged by the storm
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment including gloves, hard hats, goggle, and boots
  • Wear the appropriate respirator. A single respirator may not protect you against all of the hazards that may be present. A dust respirator will not protect you against vapors from oils or fuels
  • Make sure you are fit to wear a respirator and to conduct the work. Remediation and clean up work can be very strenuous and breathing through a respirator can add additional stress to breathing. Talk with a healthcare professional if you are uncertain about the risks of wearing a respirator
  • Take frequent breaks and remain hydrated
  • Wash hands and any areas where your skin contacts debris


  • Do not enter the building if you are uncertain about the buildings stability or of any hazards that may exist
  • Do not conduct any work without Continue reading

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Superstorm Sandy: How To Be Compensated For Your Damages

Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP hopes that you, your family and your neighbors are safe. As we work through the Hurricane Sandy recovery process we want to make sure that you have important information on what steps to take in order to be properly compensated for any damage to your home and/or business.

Property Insurance Claims

Superstorm Sandy Property Insurance Claims

We urge homeowners who have experienced property losses from Hurricane Sandy to file insurance claims with their insurers promptly.

  • Document losses as best as possible through both photos and videos before cleaning up damage.
  • Make only necessary repairs to prevent further property damage, like covering broken windows. Permanent repairs should not be made until after the insurance company does an inspection.
  • Write down your claim number and keep a log of all your conversations with your insurance agent and claims adjuster, including their names, dates and visits and calls.

Business Interruption Claims

Superstorm Sandy Business Interruption Claims

If you have suffered any business interruption as a result of the storm, you should also contact your insurance company promptly and inform them of your losses.

  • Documents the losses as best as possible through both video and photo evidence before clearing the damage.
  • Document all of your business losses with your accountant.
  • Contact us for your free evaluation to determine whether your claims are covered by your insurance.
  • If you claim was denied or if you were underpaid, call us for a FREE evaluation of your claim

Call Us Toll Free

(855) 2-STORM-LAW

(855) 278-6765

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Hurricane Sandy Cleanup Safety Fact Sheet

The Mount Sinai-Irving J Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine has published a fact sheet describing hazards for those engaging in the response to or cleanup from hurricane Sandy. They also list some services the Center provides and their locations and phone numbers. You can read the fact sheet here.

If you or someone you know was injured during the response and cleanup of Hurricane Sandy please contact Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP at (800) 692-3717


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Hurricane Sandy: Resources for Protecting Cleanup Workers and Volunteer (NYCOSH)

The New York City Central Labor Council, the Long Island Federation of Labor and the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) have released a fact sheet: CAUTION: HURRICANE SANDY CLEAN UP CAN BE HAZARDOUS! with information on how to avoid illnesses and injuries during hurricane cleanup. A list of links to government resources is included.

“There are a wide range of hazards to which workers, volunteers and home owners may be exposed,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council. “These include safety hazards such as electrocution, asphyxiation and exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos, lead, silica and biological hazards such as mold and bacteria from backed up sewage.”   According to John Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, “Previous emergency events such as World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina and Deepwater Horizon have demonstrated that there are significant gaps in responding to emergency worker and volunteer health and safety needs – resulting in tens of thousands of rescue and clean up workers becoming ill.   The fact sheet produced by NYCOSH provides information about safety and health hazards cleanup workers can expect to encounter and links to other useful information.”

In addition to such widespread hazards, NYCOSH is particularly concerned about clean up of areas such as the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek in which the storm water is likely overflow into nearby residential areas. Sewage poses very significant threats to human health. Safe and effective cleanup or removal of sewage-contaminated materials is usually best left to technically qualified, environmental professionals. “The Gowanus Canal,” said Joel Shufro, Executive Director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health “is a federally designated Super Fund site. The canal contains highly toxic substances and it is imperative that special precautions be taken and that only workers who are appropriately trained participate in the clean up.” 

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must provide a safe and healthful workplace free of recognized hazards and follow OSHA standards. Employers’ responsibilities also include providing training, personal protective equipment appropriate to the cleanup tasks. Employers are also required to provide medical examinations and recordkeeping. Workers should report hazardous conditions to OSHA (1-8000 321-OSHA(6742).

The New York City Central Labor Council (NYCCLC) is a non-profit labor membership organization 1.3 million workers in 300 local unions from every trade, occupation, public and private sector of the New York economy.

The Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, is the voice for the Long Island labor movement representing over 160 unions of workers in a wide range of occupations on Long Island

NYCOSH is a membership organization of workers, unions, community-based organizations, health and legal professionals, and other activists.  The mission of NYCOSH is to insure that every worker is provided a safe and healthful work environment. NYCOSH believes that all workplace injuries and illnesses are preventable. 

(Click here for fact sheet)

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5 Resources For Victims Of Hurricane Sandy

1. Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance Now Available to New Yorkers Affected by Hurricane Sandy

New Yorkers Who Work and Live in Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester Counties Can Apply

Department of Labor Staff to Deploy to Disaster Areas to Register Impacted New Yorkers

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that federal disaster unemployment assistance is now available to all New Yorkers who lost their jobs as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Disaster unemployment benefits are available to provide financial support to anyone who has lost their job and live or work in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties.

This assistance will supplement New York’s existing unemployment insurance system and will expand eligibility to include individuals who might otherwise not be covered. The United States Department of Labor has committed to providing additional assistance if needed.

Department of Labor staff will be deployed to hard-hit communities to help register impacted New Yorkers for Disaster Unemployment Assistance in person.

Anyone unemployed due to Hurricane Sandy is immediately eligible and can submit a claim to the Department of Labor. The criterion for collecting disaster assistance is broader than for collecting regular unemployment benefits. Specifically, an individual can collect disaster assistance in any of the following cases:

  • Injured in the disaster and unable to work, whether the person is an employee or self-employed.
  • Workplace is damaged, or destroyed, or the person cannot work because of the disaster.
  • Transportation to work is not available because of the disaster.
  • Cannot get to work because must travel through the affected area, which is impossible due to disaster.
  • Planned to begin working, but cannot because of the disaster.
  • Derived most of income from areas affected by the disaster, and business is closed or inoperable because of the disaster.

Examples of self-employment include small business owners, independent taxi drivers, vendors, independent commercial fisherman, and farmers.

State Department of Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera said, “These people want to work and are unable to because of circumstances far beyond their control. This money will directly help workers who have families to feed and bills to pay. Contact the Department of Labor and we will determine which program you qualify for.” 

To apply for unemployment benefits or disaster unemployment assistance, those affected by the storm and have lost their job or income should call the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) at 1-888-209-8124, or 1-877-358-5306 if they live out of state. Applicants should answer the questions to indicate they lost their job due to Hurricane Sandy. In order to receive benefits you must apply by December 3, 2012.


2. After Sandy, Family Health Centers Are Open in the Bronx – Everyone Welcome 

The Institute for Family Health, a non-profit organization, announced that its six family health centers in the Bronx are open following Hurricane Sandy. Doctors and mental health staff are available to see patients of all ages – babies, children and adults. The health centers accept all patients, regardless of their insurance type or ability to pay.

The Institute invites anyone in need of primary care or mental health services to visit its centers. “There is no need to wait to see a doctor, or go to the emergency room if you don’t absolutely need to,” said Dr. Neil Calman, the Institute’s president and CEO. “We know everyone has had a very difficult few days. We are here to help. If you need health care, please visit us in the Bronx at any of our six locations.”

A list of the Institute’s Bronx health centers, including phone numbers and hours of operation, is attached. For more information about the Institute or its Bronx health centers, please visit


3. Partnership to Help New Yorkers Find Poll Sites on Election Day by Text Message  

New Yorkers seeking information about where to vote on Election Day will be able to locate their poll site by text message starting today. While Hurricane Sandy has forced last-minute changes to many planned poll sites in Tuesday’s election, up-to-date information on voting locations is now only a text message away.

Text “NYCVOTES” to 877-877
Message and data rates may still apply. Customers can text ‘STOP’ to opt out of further messages.
Spanish speakers can text “DONDE” to 877-877 to receive prompts in Spanish.

The text system allows users to look up multiple poll sites. Follow the instructions provided to enter the address of the voter whose poll site you believe may have changed.

“During this especially trying week, Tuesday’s election is only one among many pressing concerns,” said Art Chang, Chair of the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee. “With many poll sites affected by the storm, it’s even more important that we help New Yorkers find their way to the polls to make their voices heard. Thanks to this service, voters need only a cell phone to keep themselves informed.” 

The poll site locator was developed by Mobile Commons, a mobile strategy company based in DUMBO and is being provided pro bono to New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Mobile Commons uses official elections information provided by the Voting Information Project and powered by Google for their Polling Place Locator that will help millions of Americans locate their polling place this election cycle. The Voting Information Project is a partnership between election officials, the Pew Center on the States, Google, Microsoft, and several other technology partners with the shared goal to bring official election information to voters wherever, whenever they need it.


4. Health Department Issues Food Safety and Water Guidelines for New Yorkers as Power is Restored in Some Areas

To help restaurants reopen safely, the Health Department is suspending regular restaurant inspections until Tuesday, November 12.   

The Health Department is announcing food safety and water guidelines to help New Yorkers stay healthy and safe as power is restored in neighborhoods across the City. Food that came into contact with flood waters is potentially contaminated and may cause serious illness or death and must be discarded. When frozen food thaws, and refrigerated food warms, bacteria and other pathogens grow that can also cause serious illnesses, and also needs to be discarded.

Learn more 


5. Health Care for Hurricane Sandy Workers and Volunteers

Mount Sinai Irving J. Selikoff Centers for Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Hurricane response and cleanup activities can put your physical health and emotional wellbeing at risk. For those workers and volunteers responding to Hurricane Sandy, you might be exposed to physical hazards and emotional stressors during the course of your work or volunteer effort.

Such hazards might include:

  • Electrical hazards, such as electrocution from downed wires. Be extra cautious around downed wires that might still be alive with electricity.
  • Injuries from electricor gas-powered tools, including chain saws. Always wear a full face mask, gloves and hearing protection when using a chain saw.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Falls
  • Fires
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals and contaminated water
  • Traumatic and stressful situations

How can the Mount Sinai Selikoff Centers help me?

  • Our doctors, nurses, and social workers have over 30 years of experience in the identification and treatment of occupational and environmental health problems. We can provide:
    • Confidential medical exams and treatment for health problems related to your Hurricane Sandy work
    • Confidential counseling services to help you cope with the emotional stress of your Hurricane Sandy work
    • Social work services to help you identify benefits and resources you and your family might need
    • Assistance with Workers’ Compensation, line of duty injury, and other benefits to which you may be entitled.

How Much Do Services Cost?

No one will be turned away due to an inability to pay. If you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation or line of duty injury benefits, you will not be billed. For charges not covered by workers’ compensation, line of duty injury, or other insurance, we have a sliding fee scale. 

How do I get help?

If you think you have been injured or made ill by your Hurricane Sandy work or volunteer activities, please contact the Mount Sinai Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at 212-241-5555.

We have clinic locations in:
345 East 102nd Street, Suite 215 
New York, NY 10029

1020 Warburton Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10701

For more information, please visit our websites at  or



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3 Important Hurricane Sandy Recovery Resources

FEMA will provide assistance to those affected by Hurricane Sandy

1. Where to Get Food and Water in New York’s Blackout Zones


Residents struggling with a lack of food and water in areas left without power after Hurricane Sandy can start get supplies starting Thursday afternoon, as federal authorities began delivering meals across the city.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Guard are set to bring 1 million meals and bottled water to New Yorkers in the affected areas of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.

Each person will be allowed three meals and five bottles of water per day, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday. Food will also be delivered directly to home-bound residents, the mayor said. Bloomberg said that 400 National Guard members, as well as 24 staffers from the Salvation Army, would help with the delivery effort.

The deliveries will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The city has set up the food-delivery stations at the following locations:


  • Chelsea Park (Chelsea): 27th Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues.
  • Vladic Playground (East Village): 10th Avenue between Avenues C and D.
  • Smith Playground (Lower East Side): Catherine Street between Cherry and Monroe streets.
  • Hamilton Fish (Lower East Side): Pitt Street at East Houston Street.
  • Confucius Plaza (Chinatown): The Bowery at Division Street.
  • Grand Street Settlement Houses (Lower East Side) – WATER ONLY: 413 Grand St. at Clinton Street.


  • Surf Avenue Playground (Coney Island): West 25th Street and Surf Avenue.
  • Red Hook Coffey Park (Red Hook): 85 Richards St.


  • Redfern Houses Playground (Rockaways): 1462 Beach Channel Dr. (Redfern and Beach 12th Street).
  • Hammel Playground (Rockaways): Beach 84th St. and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.
  • Conch Playground (Rockaways): Beach 51st Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.
  • Hallets Cove (Astoria): Veron Boulevard at 30th Road and Astoria Boulevard.


  • Parking lot at the corner of Mill Road and New Dorp Lane.
  • Yetman Avenue and Hylan Boulevard.

2. Occupy Sandy Relief 

Occupy Sandy is a coordinated relief effort to help distribute resources & volunteers to help neighborhoods and people affected by Hurricane Sandy. We are a coalition of people & organizations who are dedicated to implementing aid and establishing hubs for neighborhood resource distribution. 

Occupy Wall Street & have teamed up with – a people-powered disaster relief platform – to help coordinate response to Hurricane Sandy in NYC. At we are launching support pages where people can GIVE help or post a NEED.

Here is more information about this coalition. We have started with the following Recovery pages, and more will be coming soon:

All sites need the following items:

  • blankets
  • candles
  • flashlights
  • batteries
  • water
  • food
  • socks
  • towels
  • printer paper
  • baby items (diapers etc.)
  • pet food

Supplies can be dropped off in these areas (click herefor addresses and hours): 

  • Fort Green/Clinton Hill
  • Park Slope
  • Red Hook
  • Bay Ridge
  • Williamsburg
  • Bed-Stuy
  • Downtown Brooklyn
  • Harlem
  • Lower East Side
  • Chinatown
  • Staten Island  


3. Federal Disaster Relief

from NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg

The Federal Government has a website that allows people to apply for disaster relief assistance online at

This website consolidates the application process across several Federal agencies, including FEMA and the Small Business Administration.  The website also reduces the number of forms you will ultimately have to fill out, shortens the time it takes to apply, and allows you to check the progress of your applications online.

If you want to apply by phone rather than the Internet, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).

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Tornadoes: What Would Happen to Mark Lindquist in New York State?

Last week's tornadoes in the Southeast remind us that they can happen anywhere.

Thursday’s terrible tornado in North Carolina reminded me that these deadly events can happen anywhere, any time.

Workers’ compensation and tornados have been in the news a lot lately, partly because of the case of social worker and first responder Mark Lindquist, his miraculous survival, and his fight for workers’ comp.

Lindquist was at work when a deadly tornado touched down in Joplin, Missouri, last spring. That night he heroically saved 3 developmentally disabled adults, but in the 200 mile an hour gusts Lindquist lost all of his teeth, broke every rib, and ended up in a coma that lasted several months. His medical bills amounted to $2.5 million.

The Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, his company’s workers’ comp provider, initially denied the claim. However, recent news reports and public outrage resulted in a miraculous reversal by the insurance company on the issue of compensability.

So, what would have happened to Mark Lindquist if he had been employed in New York?

Well, in New York State Continue reading

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