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Sandy victims grow weary
(Page 3 of 4)
Anthony Rifilato/Herald
Bryan Murphy, left, the founder of Sandy Help LB, with Marian Freedman in what used to be her living room.

The state asked federal mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ease their rules to allow banks and mortgage servicers to release funds to homeowners. As a result, the Department of Financial Services said, the five large banks and mortgage servicers have begun releasing an estimated $70 million to $80 million to current borrowers as a result of the rule changes.

On Tuesday, however, the department identified 10 banks that have been slow to make insurance payments to Sandy victims.

“Everyone is waiting for insurance money at this point,” said Bryan Murphy, a real estate agent with Remax Innovations, who founded the Facebook page Sandy Help LB and a nonprofit organization aimed at helping homeowners rebuild. “Everyone is asking the same questions but can’t get answers, while trying to navigate through all of these grants, insurance and trying to find out whether you have to raise your home. It’s a full-time job.”

‘A bad dream’

East End resident Grace Maher said she was anxious to meet with her bank representative from OneWest, only to learn that it was not among the five. She said she has been waiting for insurance money to complete repairs to the first floor of her gutted home while she and her husband live upstairs.

“I had no complaint against Allstate,” she said, adding that she is now waiting for OneWest to endorse a check that was approved in mid-December. “I feel like it’s a bad dream that you can’t get out of. No matter how much you submit, the paperwork changes every time. It’s 10 times worse than doing your income taxes.”

Maher and others described a daunting process that involves submitting copies of paid permits, repair estimates and waivers of liens from contractors.

East Hudson Street resident Vincent Leis, 34, who pays $1,400 per year for flood insurance,said he went down to the Ice Arena to meet with a Wells Fargo representative. Leis, a teacher at Baldwin High School, said he wanted to meet with someone in person because he had no luck on the phone when he was told that the W-9 form he had sent was unreadable and that the bank couldn’t process his insurance check.


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They have flood insurance so they will eventually get paid. The lesson here is that folks need to have a rainy day fund and older folks on a fixed income living in a flood zone is risky.

Other issue is they might have been better off with no flood insurance at all which is odd. Charities were doing rip out for free, FEMA/NYS Sandy would have gave them up to $41,900 and the STEP program up to 10K.

They then would have been free to hire handiman at half cost to do majority of work remaining. Also would have gone right away to Salvation Army etc for used furniture.

My neighbor had 100K worth of damage to home. He immediately hired a work crew getting estimates and keeping prices as low as possible. Paid off bill in increments and insurance company paid him at each step.

Insurance companies and banks dont like to front you money. Do the work, submit bill and get paid. If folks had a rainy day fund or access to lines of credit pre-storm stories like this would not exist.

I had the same exact damage as two of my neighbors with insurance. Both got paid 160K. I did the same exact job for 50K. Took a month off work, really shopped around and avoided expensive contractors that charged "insurance" prices. Kinda like when your car is dented their is "insurance" price and pay out of pocket price.

Next time all of us will be better prepared

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 | Report this

I understand completely because I have gone through all of this. My nerves are shot. I can't deal with FEMA or the insurance companies or anyone. Luckily, I found a tiny apartment and moved while my husband ripped out everything himself while waiting for the contractor to arrive. All our bills have skyrocketed. We lost two cars and replaced them. Now we are over our heads in bills. Any and everything has been done to keep costs low. No fancy stainless steel appliances. What I don't understand is why FEMA always tells you something different each time you call them. Others have also done the same. The red tape has been horrendous. How many times did I have to fax the same paperwork? I have nickeled and dimed everyone in order to keep everyone including the contractor happy.

Soon I will return to my Meadowmere Park home in the Lawrence, NY area. I am totally disgusted with everything and everyone. It has been a long 5 months and I am not working and that makes things worse for my family.

Once I go back to my flood-damaged home, I won't feel comfortable that another hurricane won't come again. New York, in my opinion is for those who have lots of money. That's why I am planning to get the f----k out of here as soon as I can. Most people don't have $100,000 laying around in case of an emergency like rebuilding homes. Next time we have a hurricane I will leave NY for good!!!!! All the promises made did not help in getting back to our homes again quickly. Some days after the hurricane, we were advised to go online to apply for FEMA. There was no power, yet the bills came daily and nobody could go online or charge their cell phones. There were alot of stupid comments like that all over. Pay attention-----some will stay and others will leave NY. Too many delays, lots of paperwork,dealing with selfish and stupid people, etc. Let's say I have a very bad impression on the handling of hurricane Sandy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 | Report this
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