“So many homes are not even under repair yet because residents who can’t afford to lay out the money are still waiting for their insurance company to tell them why they’re rejecting, or to cut the checks,” Denenberg said. “Thirty days would have been enough time. Five months is ridiculous.”
He invited a constituent, Freeport homeowner Eileen McCormack, to discuss the hardships she has endured since the storm, and how her bank and insurance company have not made things any easier. McCormack said she has been living in her leaky, badly damaged home since Sandy because she has nowhere else to go and lacks the means to move. She said she has caught pneumonia twice since the storm and is suffering from a number of other ailments that she blames on her living conditions.
“The insurance company issued the check to Wells Fargo and never advised me that they had issued any checks … and Wells Fargo never contacted me to say that they were holding my money,” McCormack said. “I found this out by making multiple calls to the insurance company and to the bank. Now they just released last week a check for $1,000 so I can put a tarp on my roof. Well, a tarp is a little bit too late, because my whole house has been flooded already.”
Denenberg argued that the county has the power to regulate banks and insurance companies under the county’s “home rule powers and our police power to protect the health, safety and welfare of Nassau County citizens.” He said he would welcome similar legislation from New York state, but he said that Nassau County could lead the way in pressuring Albany to act.
“Nassau County has a history of taking the bull by the horns, if you will, and proposing legislation that often passed at the county level and then became statewide,” Denenberg said. “We passed no-texting-while-driving, and were told, ‘Isn’t that state vehicle and traffic law?’ We said no, under our own home rule we can enforce it in Nassau … and the state said, that’s a good idea, and within two years it became state law.”
Peter Clines, the Legislature’s minority counsel, who signed off on the bills, said that the county “clearly has concurrent jurisdiction with the state” to protect residents’ health, safety and welfare.