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.
Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.