Howard Beach Residents Deal With Insurance Companies In Sandy's Aftermath
In some communities hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, the cleanup phase is largely over, but now, some Howard Beach residents say they face the daunting challenge of dealing with insurance companies. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
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From the outside, Paulina DeVito-Tesoriero’s house looks just fine. It’s in the basement where everything was lost.
"There was a bathroom here," she said. "This was the whole den area and play area for the children. We had a closet here for storage, and we also had another closet for my husband, all his work things, in there."
She has photographs documenting the damage, but is still waiting for an insurance inspector. It’s a story you hear again and again in Howard Beach, a hard hit but, some say, overlooked neighborhood.
The insurance company finally paid Michael Mastrandrea a visit recently, but he’s not hopeful. Like most in the Zone B neighborhood, he has no flood insurance.
"That’s a big problem in Howard Beach," said one resident. "Nobody has flood insurance. We were never told to get it, and we’re not in a flood zone. I’ve lived here 35 years and it never happened. We’ve never had a flood."
Wednesday, residents took their insurance gripes to a mobile command center set up by the New York State Department of Financial Services.
"It’s been 30, 40 days, and no one helps you," said one resident. "Your brokers, no one knows an answer. Everybody’s a middle guy. And it’s just, everywhere you turn, there’s like a dead end.”
It wasn’t just homes that were affected. Along Cross Bay Boulevard, the main commercial drag in Howard Beach, just about every single business took on water, as much as five feet. Some stores still haven’t reopened.
Kim Langona estimates approximately $100,000 of damage to her hair salon, but like others, she's learned the hard way that having hurricane coverage doesn’t help.
"When you go to your insurance company, they say this wasn’t a hurricane, it was a superstorm, so you’re not covered," she said. "So it makes no sense."
Unlike others nearby, she’s been open with the help of generators, one of many costs she doesn’t expect to see reimbursed.