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Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Sandy victims grow weary
Long Beach residents continue to deal with slow reimbursement process
Anthony Rifilato/Herald
Bryan Murphy, left, the founder of Sandy Help LB, with Marian Freedman in what used to be her living room.

Marian Freedman, 70, has lived on Dalton Street with her husband, Gus, 88, since 1972. She has paid their flood insurance bills on time, and they fled the city whenever a mandatory evacuation order was issued, including during Tropical Storm Irene.

But Irene wasn’t so bad, Freedman said, so they chose to stay behind during Hurricane Sandy, only to watch the floodwaters rise.

“This was the first time we decided not to evacuate,” she said, standing inside her gutted home, where the couple has been living since January. When the waters rushed into their single-family ranch, Marian and Gus, who worked in retail and sales before they retired, hurried upstairs to the attic with their dog and pet birds. There was barely room to stand, she recalled.

“That saved our lives,” she said. “I got my animals in the attic and then I got [Gus] into the attic. And I was trying to save all of my pictures.”

The home was inundated by more than 4 feet of water and sustained nearly $100,000 in damage, she said. The Freedmans received rental assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and moved into an apartment in Woodbury. But Gus, who is in deteriorating health and suffers from dementia, had to be admitted to a hospital at the time.

When he was released, Marian said, she just wanted to return home and take care of him. “I figured if I get him out of the hospital and bring him home, he’ll be OK,” she said.

Her contractor had gutted the house, and heat and electricity were restored. The man Freedman hired to repair her oil burner even donated a washing machine. “We came back in January,” she said, “and FEMA got me electricity and heat, so we were able to move in.”

Marian now sleeps on a small cot in what used to be the den, beside her ailing husband, who sleeps on a recliner. A small flat-screen TV sits on a wooden stool. Their refrigerator works, but they use a microwave, propped on an ironing board, to heat their food. The interior of the home is in shambles, the walls exposed and the floor torn up.

Freedman said that she took out a $97,000 flood insurance policy with her insurance company, Allstate, and has received $47,000 to cover some of the damage. But the company has yet to determine whether her policy will cover all of it, she said.


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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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