After Sandy: Recovery 101
For a good overview of all federal programs click to the Federal Disaster Relief Funding Assistance Hurricane Sandy Guidebook. This guide and the information below is NY-specific but the basic information and steps involved apply throughout the region.
The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals and some organizations in Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Suffolk, Queens, Westchester and Rockland counties. If your county is not listed, don’t give up hope. Sometimes the disaster declaration is expanded. As we receive more information we’ll send it out.
First step: Assessment and safety
- If your home or organizational building has suffered damage, call your insurance agent to file a claim.
- Check for structural damage before re-entering to avoid being trapped in a building collapse.
- Take photos of any floodwater in your home or building and save any damaged personal property.
- Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value with receipts, and place with the inventory you took prior to the flood. Some damaged items may require disposal, so keep photographs of these items.
- Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
- Use bottled water or boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your water supply is safe.
- Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately.
- Wear gloves and boots to clean and disinfect. Wet items should be cleaned with a pine-oil cleanser and bleach, completely dried, and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors.
- For more guidance, see the Recovering after an emergency or disaster from the Red Cross.
Second step: Filing an insurance claim
Your insurance policy is your first line of defense. Here’s a refresher on hurricane deductibles and flood coverage from the New York Times. Filing an insurance claim is usually a three-phase process:
After experiencing a flood, contact your agent or insurance company to file a claim. An adjuster should contact you within a few days of filing your claim. If you do not hear from an adjuster, you can contact your insurance agent or company again. Make sure you have the following information handy:
- The name of your insurance company
- Your policy number
- A telephone and/or email address where you can be reached at all times
- Separate damaged from undamaged property. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to your home and possessions to prepare your repair estimate.
- Take photographs of all of the damaged property, including discarded objects, structural damage, and standing floodwater levels.
- Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their date of purchase, value, and receipts, if possible.
- Officials may require disposal of damaged items so, if possible. Follow the instructions provided by local officials.
- Your adjuster will provide you a Proof of Loss form for your official claim for damages. You’ll need to file this claim with your insurance company within 60 days of the flood. This document substantiates the insurance claim and is required before the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or insurance company can make payment.
- You’ll receive your claim payment after you and the insurer agree on the amount of damages and the insurer has your complete, accurate, and signed Proof of Loss form. If major catastrophic flooding occurs, it may take longer to process claims and make payments because of the sheer number of claims submitted.
Read more about insurance claims: How to file your claim now [PDF 78K].
Third step: applying for FEMA assistance
FEMA assistance will cover some uninsured or underinsured losses.
- Register online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
- Register through a web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov.
- Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
In addition to these three ways to apply, you can also visit a disaster recovery center in their area and search for disaster recovery centers on their smartphone. There will be one-stop centers opening around the region, especially in the high-impact areas.
Note: There will be deadlines, after which no federal aid will be available. Once the deadlines are set we will publicize them.
- What’s covered? Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
- Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
- Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs. (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)
- Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals. (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)
- Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
- Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits and social security matters.
Not all nonprofits are eligible for the grants listed below. The costs must be deemed reasonable and necessary to qualify.
- What kind of nonprofits are included? Specific guidance for this type of assistance has not yet been published. In past disasters, eligible private non-profit facilities fall into two groups and the application process might be slightly different for these categories:
- critical. non-profit educational, utility, emergency, medical or custodial care facility, including a facility for the aged or disabled, and other facility providing essential governmental type services to the general public, and such facilities on Indian reservations.”
- non-critical. Museums, zoos, community centers, libraries,homeless shelters, senior citizen centers, rehabilitation facilities, shelter workshops and facilities which provide health and safety services of a governmental nature. All such facilities must be open to the general public.”
- non-governmental. Reimbursements will be given to organizations providing “services of governmental nature”. Other types of organizations, including houses of worship, do not seem to qualify.
- What is covered? Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for removing debris from public areas and for emergency measures, including direct federal assistance, taken to save lives and protect property and public health. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
- To apply, download two short forms: a Request for Public Assistance (PDF) and a PNP Facility Questionnaire (PDF). Fill them out and submit them.
- Mail. Public Assistance Section, NY State Office of Emergency Management, 1220 Washington Ave, Bldg 22, Suite 101, Albany NY 12226-2251.
- Fax. (518) 322-4984
- What will happen next? After you submit the Request for Public Assistance you will be contacted by a public assistance coordinator/liaison (PAC/PAL) assigned to your organization. These knowledgeable (PAC/PAL) team members will get you the additional forms needed to complete your application and assist you at every step of the process.
- Loans. Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
For a good overview see NYC’s Hurricane Sandy Business Recovery Information