Post-hurricane worries for East Rockaway, Bay Park residents
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One resident stood up and said that his insurance company’s adjuster told him that wind doesn’t knock over a fence — only water. Mager suggested that the homeowner email photos of Hurricane Andrew — a Category 5 hurricane that hit south Florida in 1992 — to the adjuster.
“Wind did it,” he said, “and it looks like it was hit by a nuclear bomb. What wins in these cases is science — you need an engineer. Your water damage could have been caused by the wind, like blowing off a roof so water gets in — which is under your homeowner’s coverage. Get science on your side; it will strengthen your chances. Hold their feet to the fire!”
Advice from FEMA
Michael Byrne, the leader of FEMA’s National Incident Management Assistant Team East, said that in his 31 years of experience, he has seen conditions this bad only once or twice.
“We’ve been here since before the storm,” Byrne said, explaining that the state has to invite FEMA into the affected areas. “We brought some food, some water … when we come in, our first focus is on immediate lifesaving measures.” He added that there are 3,600 FEMA representatives in the New York-New Jersey area. “We are not an insurance company,” he said, “[but] we help you get back on your feet, and can help with rental assistance, with minor repairs so you can live in your home … we can help you get employed, and we have crisis counselors.”
Byrne said that FEMA has already put $775 million into the hands of hurricane victims. “We’re not leaving, we’re not done …,” he said. “The government can be a little complicated, but give us a chance.” Residents were invited to speak with FEMA representatives individually after the meeting.
A Bay Park resident pointed out that many homeowners in the area want to take advantage of a hazard-mitigation program. Such programs allow residents to take action to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to their properties, such as raising their homes. Byrne explained that FEMA can assist with this, and that while some communities might opt for elevating their homes, others may decide they want buyouts. He urged homeowners to work with local officials, and Santino pointed out that in this case, that would be Nassau County.