Tag Archives: sandy

Free legal services for small businesses affected by Sandy

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $1 million award to the Disaster Recovery Clinic at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University to help families and small businesses in Nassau and Suffolk Counties affected by Superstorm Sandy. The award will expand the pro bono counseling services at the clinic to an additional 250 homeowners and businesses.

The funds were made available through the State’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The award to Hofstra Law’s Disaster Recovery Clinic will allow for continuing services until at least May 2015.

High temps may result in New York power crunch

Image of the SunReduced capacity, partly from effects of Sandy, could lead to blackouts

I did a quick check of the forecast of high temperatures expected in different parts of New York: Albany – 92 degrees;  Buffalo – 85; Syracuse – 92; New York’s Central Park – 92. In this morning’s edition of the Times Union, Larry Rulison warned that a hotter-than-expected summer could lead to power shortages, even blackouts, especially in New York City. Why? “The ghost of Superstorm Sandy,” wrote Rulison. The state will have about 1,000 megawatts less of available electricity than last summer… that translates to about 1 million homes.

DFS Program Alert: Banks to meet one-on-one with homeowners seeking Sandy insurance settlement money

Dept. of Financial Services LogoGovernor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that five of New York’s largest banks and mortgage servicers will have representatives available to offer one-on-one help to homeowners seeking the release of Superstorm Sandy insurance settlement funds at the Department of Financial Services’ Disaster Assistance Centers from Monday, March 4 through Saturday, March 9.

Click here for more details.


Coumo announces DFS mediation process for homeowners disputing Sandy insurance claims

Voluntary mediation offers speedy resolution when insurers and homeowners can’t agree

This from the governor’s press office – “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Department of Financial Services has established a voluntary mediation process for homeowners disputing their insurance claims or dissatisfied with denials of their claims arising from Storm Sandy.

“Mediation offers a speedy, low-cost resolution of insurance claims for homeowners who are unable to reach agreement with their homeowners’ insurance companies on claims from Storm Sandy,” Governor Cuomo said. “It is also much less expensive for insurers than litigation, so it’s a win for everyone.”

Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin M. Lawsky said, “Most non-flood insurance claims have already been resolved by insurance companies. But we know from past storms that some claims are difficult to resolve. We also know that after other major storms, mediation was extremely successful in other states. So the Department of Financial Services has issued an emergency regulation directing insurers to offer and pay for voluntary mediation for open and denied insurance claims from Storm Sandy.”

Most non-flood insurance claims have already been resolved, and most of those unresolved are still in process. As of February 8, insurers representing 90 percent of the market in Sandy-affected areas reported to the Department that, with respect to all claims other than flood, they have received 432,000 claims and had fully resolved 87 percent. These insurers have paid $3.6 billion of the $4.6 billion that they expect to pay. With regard to residential property insurance, there have been 287,000 claims, and 94 percent have been fully resolved, with carriers paying $1.5 billion of the $1.7 billion that they expect to pay.

Under the new regulation, homeowners may seek mediation for claims that are disputed or if they disagree with the insurance company’s denial of a claim.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Rita, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana instituted nonbinding mediation programs, administered by the American Arbitration Association, aimed at bringing prompt closure to disputed insurance claims.

Both consumers and insurers have found the programs beneficial. After Hurricane Andrew, a program sponsored by the Florida Department of Insurance handled 2,400 claims and achieved a settlement rate of 92 percent. In Louisiana, 15,000 cases were filed after Katrina, with a settlement rate of 74 percent. In Mississippi, 5,000 cases yielded settlements 82 percent of the time.

To read more click here.

City plans to allot first $1 billion in storm aid to housing and businesses

Mayor Bloomberg on Sandy ReliefGood news for families and businesses in New York City. Help is on the way as the first billion dollars of the $51 billion disaster relief package approved by Congress is released. $100 million in grants will be offered to up to 1,300 businesses. Here’s the story by Kate Taylor of The New York Times:

New York City plans to spend its first $1 billion in federal money for Hurricane Sandy recovery on loans and grants to homeowners and businesses affected by the storm and efforts to protect public housing and critical infrastructure in the future, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Wednesday.

The money will come from a $51 billion disaster relief package that will be distributed to New York, New Jersey and other affected areas. The first installment for the city will total $1.77 billion; in his presentation on Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg did not say how he would use about $725 million of that initial payment.

Under the plan, the city would spend $350 million on grants to low-, moderate- and middle-income owners of single-family homes — up to 1,000 homeowners whose primary residences were destroyed by the storm, and up to 8,300 whose primary residences were damaged but not destroyed.

The city would spend $250 million on grants and low-interest loans to help repair up to 12,790 units of low-, moderate- and middle-income housing in multifamily homes and rental buildings damaged by the hurricane. It would spend $120 million to help fortify public housing against future storms, including putting permanent emergency generators in about 100 buildings.

For businesses affected by the storm, the city would offer $100 million in grants to up to 1,300 businesses.

Lastly, the city would spend $140 million on competitions to help utilities protect their networks against future storms, and to jump-start economic development in business districts heavily affected the storm.

Click here to read more.

First installment of $51 billion Sandy aid to be released today

Federal officials plan to release the first installment of the $51 billion federal aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims today, with New York City slated to receive $1.77 billion and New York State $1.71 billion. This is the report from David W. Chen of The New York Times:

Federal officials plan on Wednesday to release the first installment of a nearly $51 billion emergency aid package to help millions of victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.

That installment will total $5.4 billion, with New York City receiving $1.77 billion; New York State, $1.71 billion; New Jersey, $1.82 billion; and Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island splitting the rest, Senator Charles E. Schumer said.

A formal announcement is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday on Staten Island, with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg expected to be joined by Shaun Donovan, the Obama administration’s housing secretary, among others.

Click here to read more.

Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy recovery releases preliminary report on storm relief

TaskForceSandyLess than three months after Senate Co-Leaders Jeffrey D. Klein and Dean G. Skelos launched the New York State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy recovery, the Task Force has released its preliminary report and recommendations on Sandy relief and storm planning. The preliminary report and recommendations come after Task Force members toured storm damaged communities across the New York City Metro Area, including Freeport, Island Park, Oceanside, The Rockaways, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Hudson Valley.

Following each tour, the Task Force held roundtable discussions with over one hundred community, private sector, and government stakeholders, including major insurance carriers and senior members of the Cuomo administration. Today’s preliminary report outlines the Task Force’s key findings from these roundtables and sets forth 10 preliminary recommendations. The Task Force will release a final report in the coming weeks.

The Task Force’s key findings and preliminary recommendations

  •   Developing certification and licensing procedures for mold remediation contractors.
  •   Supplementing existing business loan programs with direct grants to businesses severely impacted by Sandy.
  •   Working with the Department of Financial Services to expedite insurance claim check processing to ensure that homeowners get the resources they need to rebuild their homes as soon as possible.
  •   Developing better statewide protocols for gasoline distributions so that the energy needs of first responders and other critical service providers are properly prioritized.
  •   Exploring the use of soft barriers as a means of mitigating future storm damage.

Sandy home buyout plan extended to upstate

Upstate areas affected by Lee and Irene will also be included in $400M block grant plans

 Jimmy Vielkind wrote the following story for this morning’s Times Union:

ALBANY — The state’s plan to use $400 million to buy out homeowners in flood plains devastated by Superstorm Sandy will extend to upstate residents affected by tropical storms Lee and Irene, state and federal officials said.

The money would be outside of a separate buyback program operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has received dozens of applications from flood-ravaged homeowners in the wake of the back-to-back 2011 storms. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced plans for a buyback program in his State of the State presentation last month. Details emerged after a meeting Friday between state and federal officials.

“There’s huge demand,” said Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie. “Many people are still suffering, and housing is a huge, unmet need. … The challenge is that FEMA money is competitive, and many communities have not been able to get the funding they need.”

Money for the buyback program will come from Community Development Block Grants, distributed with large discretion by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency Cuomo once headed. Its current secretary, Shaun Donovan, was a former housing official in New York City, and has served as the Obama administration’s point man for post-Sandy recovery efforts.