Monday, September 02, 2013

The Lingering Impact of Super Storm Sandy

Well I know it's been quite awhile since I last wrote in this Blog. I've posted a couple of tidbits on my Facebook site (BethanyMarten) but have been pretty pre-occupied for the past year with all of the real estate fallout from Super Storm Sandy. It ain't easy rebuilding your own home plus another 4 rental properties that were flood damaged. You know what was the toughest part of it all? Dealing with the insurance companies who had no great desire to pay for the damage and dealing with the banks who held the mortgages on said properties. Once I finally started to receive money from my insurance companies, the banks mandated that they were in charge of holding the insurance payments in an escrow fund. This escrow money would not be released until they sent out inspectors to make sure that the homes were actually being fixed up. It became a Catch 22, no money to pay for the repairs but the repairs were expected to be made, in order to release the money. The past 10 months of my life have been completely and utterly absorbed by this.

I wonder how the rest of my fellow Long Islanders, who were impacted by Sandy, managed to put their lives back in order? There is no question in my mind that many of my neighbors on the South Shore of Long Island became so overwhelmed that they completely gave up and walked away from their homes. It will take some time for the worst hit areas to completely rebuild and rise again. Many homes were severely damaged and some homes saw their foundations crumble. Unlucky Long Islanders, who chose not to carry flood insurance, were devastated by the Storm. FEMA gave some people a couple thousand dollars, but not enough to talk about or to make any significant difference.

Governor Cuomo recently announced an initiative called "NY Rising" to help New Yorkers who have still not recovered from the Super Storm. Supposedly there are billions of dollars available if you fill out more applications and provide more documentation but I personally don't believe much of it. I've already experienced first hand how the system works and it's not pretty. The only people who get any money fast are the employees who work for NY State administering this new program. It's been over 2 months since the program was instituted and still not a single dollar has gone to anyone who needs it. I took the time to go to the temporary trailer housing for NY Rising and was one of the first several hundred people to fill out a form. The form was completely finished but not submitted (why not, who only knows?) by the lovely young woman who I met with. Instead I was told to come back with more documentation and when I did, the trailer was empty and no one was there! I managed to find an employee of Island Park who gave me directions to the new temporary site and upon arriving found it to be a former kickboxing studio with lots of NYS employees buzzing around attending to more poor schmucks like me who still needed help to rebuild. The woman I was assigned to went through the very same exact application that I had already filled out 8 weeks prior. I told her that I had brought in all of the documentation that had been previously requested. She told me that she didn't need it right now but I could have uploaded it to their web site directly since I had been given a passcode. I told her that I had not been given a web site address so it was near impossible to upload anything. During the course of our hour and a half meeting, the only thing that did really excite her and most of the other NYS employees, was the sound of a Mr. Softee Ice cream truck pulling up to the front of the building! Most of the employees ran out for their daily ice cream fix. So I'm thinking to myself, this is where the money is going since it is surely not going to me or any of the other people who had wasted more hours of their life filling out more forms which most likely would not put one more dollar into any of our pockets to help rebuild New York!


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