Hurricane Disaster Assistance Resources

 

Disaster Assistance


·         Added Westchester and Rockland to the Major Disaster Declaration, designating both for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance Category A and B, as well as Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) (Nov. 2)


·         The original disaster counties are Bronx, Kings, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk.


 Homeowner Assistance


·         Created a fund for homeowners affected by Sandy, pledging $100 million in state aid and vowing to replenish it as necessary.  (Nov. 2)


 


Unemployment Assistance


·         Federal disaster unemployment assistance is now available to anyone who has lost their job and live or work in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties  


·         Will supplement New York’s existing unemployment insurance system and will expand eligibility to include individuals who might otherwise not be covered.  Specifically, an individual can collect disaster assistance in any of the following cases:



  •  

    • Injured in the disaster and unable to work, whether the person is an employee or self-employed.

    • Workplace is damaged, or destroyed, or the person cannot work because of the disaster

    •   Transportation to work is not available because of the disaster

  •  

    • Cannot get to work because must travel through the affected area, which is impossible due to disaster.

    • Planned to begin working, but cannot because of the disaster.

    • Derived most of income from areas affected by the disaster, and business is closed or inoperable because of the disaster.

 


The United States Department of Labor has committed to providing additional assistance if needed. (Nov. 2)


 


Department of Motor Vehicles


·         All driver licenses, learner permits, non-driver identification cards and vehicle registrations scheduled to expire on or before Tuesday, November 13, 2012 are extended until Wednesday, November 14, 2012 for citizens of NYC, and counties of Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau.  Extension does not include vehicle inspections that expired on Oct. 31 or Motor vehicle liability insurance coverage.  DMV hearings will be postponed.  (Nov. 2)


 


Tax  and Finance


·         The State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced the extension of certain tax filing and payment deadlines for taxpayers directly affected by the storm, extending filings and tax payments due during the period beginning October 26, 2012 and ending on or before November 13, 2012 to a new date of November 14th, 2012.  Because Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency, this extension is available to all New York State counties.  More information is available at http://www.tax.ny.gov. (Nov. 2)


·         Signed an Executive Order to allow distributors and transporters to bring gasoline, diesel, and kerosene into the State of New York without having to meet the usual registration requirements imposed by the Department of Taxation and Finance. (Nov. 2)


 Bond Obligation Extensions


·         The State Environmental Facilities Corporation will help Orange County Village of Greenwood Lake and other communities avoid potentially defaulting on their bond obligations by giving them an extra month to make their scheduled payments (payments were due yesterday). (Nov. 2)


The following provides more detail and websites to obtain additional information or to apply for services online:


 Disaster Assistance


·         FEMA assistance --  800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) or visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov (or m.fema.gov from a smartphone or Web-enabled device).


·         Never a fee to apply for FEMA disaster assistance or to receive it.


·         No fee for FEMA or U.S. Small Business Administration property damage inspections.


·         Please be aware: Government workers will never ask for a fee or payment. They wear a photo ID. Watch out for middlemen who promise you will receive money, especially if they ask for an up-front payment.


Bridges, Subways, Commuter Railways and Roads


·         For the latest information regarding subway, bus and commuter rail availability, visit:


o   http://www.mta.info


o   http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/ferrybus/ferintro.shtml


o   http://www.mta.info/lirr/


o   http://www.panynj.gov/alerts-advisories/inclement-weather.html


·         Fare Waivers Information: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/10312012transportationemergency


·         For the latest info on bridge and tunnel closures, visit:


o   http://www.mta.info


o   http://www.panynj.gov/alerts-advisories/inclement-weather.html


·         For the latest info on road closures and speed restrictions, visit:  Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.


DMV Extensions


·            The State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has announced that all driver licenses, learner permits, non-driver identification cards and vehicle registrations scheduled to expire on or before Tuesday, November 13, 2012 are extended until Wednesday, November 14, 2012.


·            This extension applies only to residents of New York City, and the counties of Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk. It does not apply to insurance coverage requirements. Motor vehicle liability insurance coverage must be maintained at all times during this extension period.


·            Vehicle inspections, which expire on the last day of the month, are not included in the extension. Also, all DMV hearings, including Traffic Violations Bureau hearings scheduled through Friday, November 2, 2012, in New York City, Nassau, Westchester and Suffolk counties, are being postponed. If you have a hearing scheduled, please do not appear at the hearing site. You will be notified of a rescheduled hearing date by mail. For hearings scheduled on or after Monday, November 5, 2012, please check our web site for updates and additional information at http://www.dmv.ny.gov/.


·            Motorists who cannot get to a DMV or may have forgotten to renew their vehicle registrations on time can print a temporary 10-day proof of registration when they renew their registrations online. This is one of several online services DMV offers. By signing up for MyDMV, customers gain quick and easy access to a variety of personalized and secure online services without mailing in forms or making a trip to a local DMV office. For additional information, visit www.dmv.ny.gov.


Environmental Safety Concerns


Coastal Erosion and Tidal Wetlands Emergency Project Guidelines


·         Following the storm surges and coastal flooding due to Hurricane Sandy, many projects for stabilization and repair that normally require coastal erosion hazard area and wetlands permits will be covered under a general permit along the coastal areas of Long Island, New York City and the lower Hudson Valley.


·         Such projects include the stabilization of existing dwellings, decks and walkways with temporary bracing and pilings, installation of sandbags or sand cubes at the toe of damaged structures or eroded escarpments, Re-grading eroded dunes, in-kind/in-place repair of stairways or reconstruction of bulkheads and shoreline erosion structures that were functional before Hurricane Sandy and the repair or reconstruction of existing public roads, bridges, utilities and other public infrastructure.


 Spill Reporting


·         To report an oil or chemical spill, such as from a home oil furnace damaged by flooding, call the NYS Spill Hotline at 1-800-457-7362.


·         For more information on General Permits, please visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/76659.html


Food Assistance


·         Current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) recipient households that have lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to the Hurricane Sandy disaster are entitled to a replacement issuance of benefits provided that the loss is reported within 30 days of the event, by November 28, 2012, and the household returns a signed and completed form LDSS-2291, “Request for Replacement of Food Purchased with Food Stamp Benefits,” by the close of business on Monday, December 10, 2012.


·          Form LDSS-2291 is available at: http://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/2291.pdf and at local Department of Social Services offices. You can find the location of your local Department of Social Services by calling the toll-free New York State Temporary Assistance Hotline at 1-800-342-3009.


 


Insurance


·         The NYS Department of Financial Services urges homeowners who experienced property losses to file insurance claims with their insurers promptly and as soon as possible after losses occur. It is important to provide policy numbers and all information relevant to the loss. To best document losses, homeowners should to take photos or videos showing the extent of the losses before cleaning up damage.


·         Homeowners should make only necessary repairs to prevent further damage to property, like covering broken windows. Permanent repairs should not be made until after insurers have inspected losses. Damaged personal property should be kept until after an insurance settlement has been reached.


·          In addition, homeowners should cooperate fully with their insurer and keep a diary of all conversations with the insurance agent, including the agent’s name, as well as the times and dates of all calls or visits.


·         Homeowners are also reminded that flood damage is only covered by flood insurance, which is a federal program administered by FEMA. Homeowners who have flood insurance and have flood damage should make claims through that insurance.


·         DFS will be sending its mobile command center to hard hit areas to help consumers with insurance questions and problems.


·         DFS has activated a Disaster Hotline to answer consumer questions and help with problems. The Disaster Hotline number is 800-339-1759. It is staffed Monday – Friday from 8 AM – 8 PM and Saturday - Sunday from 9 AM – 4 PM.


·          Homeowners unable to resolve disputes with insurers can file complaints at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm.


  Contact Information and Outage Maps for Power Companies:


·         Central Hudson: http://stormcentral.cenhud.com/default.aspx, or 1-845-452-2700 or 1-800-527-2714


·         Con Ed: http://apps.coned.com/stormcenter_external/default.html or 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633)


·         LIPA: http://www.lipower.org/stormcenter/outagemap.html or 1-800-490-0075


·         National Grid: https://www1.nationalgridus.com/PowerOutageMap-NY-RES or 1-800-867-5222 (Upstate Electricity), 1-800-892-2345 (Upstate Gas), 1-718-643-4050 (Metro Area Gas), 1-800-490-0045 (Long Island Gas)


·         NYSEG: http://outagemap.nyseg.com/ny/?style=newyork or 1-800-572-1121
Orange & Rockland:
http://apps.coned.com/stormcenter_external_oru/default.html or 1-877-434-4100


·         RG&E: http://outagemap.rge.com/ny/?style=rge or 1-800-743-1702


Shelter Information


·        To find a shelter near you, visit http://www.redcross.org/find-help/shelter


 


Storm Recovery Assistance Scams


·         Protect yourself from home repair and other scam artists, who may try to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners who suffered property damage from Storm Sandy.


·         Please be aware that the only ways to register for FEMA help are to call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) or visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov (or m.fema.gov from a smartphone or Web-enabled device).


·         There is never a fee to apply for FEMA disaster assistance or to receive it and there is no fee for FEMA or U.S. Small Business Administration property damage inspections.


 Some scams to watch out for:


·         Form completion services. Beware of people charging a fee to help you complete disaster assistance forms, such as FEMA or SBA, or obtaining assistance checks. These services are provided free through FEMA and the Red Cross.


·         Phony Inspectors. Never let anyone in until you have verified they have the appropriate credentials. Always ask for a telephone number so you can confirm the inspector is working for an authorized agency.


·         Government Grant Offers. Be aware of entities offering "free grant money" for flood repair or disaster relief. A true grant is free and never requires any upfront fees or repayment. Check with a regional or state economic development office to see if they know of grant programs for which you might qualify, or contact your local social service agency for information or assistance.


·         Advance Fee Loans. Advance fee loans are illegal. Ignore any company that “guarantees” you will receive a loan. Dishonest operators will charge a processing fee, and then promise they will find a lender. It is illegal to charge an up-front fee.


·         Water Testing & Purifiers. Monitor local news media for instructions from health authorities regarding water safety and purification. Avoid offers for “free” home water testing, and be skeptical of claims that an in-home test shows your water is unsafe. If you have questions about the safety of your water, contact your local public health authority.


These are some warning signs that tell you to avoid a contractor or salesman.


 Beware of anyone who:


·         Comes to your home or calls you on the phone and offers to make repairs.


·         Tells you that you must make repairs immediately.



  • Talks too fast to confuse you and pressures you to sign a contract immediately.

  • Tells you that they are doing work in your neighborhood and that they have extra materials left from another job.

  • Offers a discounted price or discounts if you refer others, but only if you buy today.

  • Tells you something that sounds too good to be true. It probably is not true!

  • Is not an established local business, but has come to the area from somewhere else to “help.”

 


 Some suggestions for the safe way to find a contractor to repair your home.


 Check out contractors. Is the company reputable? How long has it been in business? Ask for references and then check them out. Make sure the company is licensed, bonded, and insured. Ask to see its insurance policy or certificate of insurance. There are on-line resources for finding out other people’s experience with contractors.



  • Get at least two estimates. Many companies give free inspections and written estimates -- get two or three before choosing a contractor. Remember that the lowest price is not always the best deal. Compare costs, materials, and methods suggested by different companies to decide what materials and methods are best for your home.

  • Insist on a written contract that includes a detailed description of the work to be done and specifies exactly what materials will be used and their quality. The contract should include starting and estimated completion dates. The terms, including the price, finance charges and payments, should be what you agreed on. If not, do not sign it! Be sure to get a copy of everything you sign when you sign it.

  • Ask if there is a guarantee or warranty. If so, make sure it is in writing. If the company won't put its promises in writing, look for another company which will.

  • Do not sign the contract until you read it carefully. If the salesperson pressures you to sign before you read and understand the entire contract - don't sign it! Never rely on the salesperson to read or explain the contract to you.

  • Do not pay for work in advance.

  • Inspect all of the work very carefully to make sure it was done properly. If you have any doubts or questions, do NOT make your final payment or sign a "completion certificate" until the work is properly finished.

 If you think you have been the victim of a scam, you should consult a lawyer immediately. There are time deadlines to cancel sales and pursue legal claims. You can also contact the Department of Financial Services for insurance related scams, or your district attorney or the Attorney General’s Office.


 Price Gouging


·         Some businesses raise their prices excessively on essential goods and services like drinking water, ice, groceries, fuel, towing, and car and home repairs. State law prohibits excessive increases in prices for essential goods and services during times of market disturbance, such as after a disaster.


·         If you feel that you are being unfairly charged for goods or services such as drinking water, food, towing, or any other necessity, raise the issue of price gouging with the provider. If that does not solve the problem, you can report the merchant to local law enforcement or the Attorney General.


 Phony Charities


·         After a disaster it is natural that those who were not harmed want to help others who were. Indeed, that help is essential when there serious damage and many people have suffered major losses.


·          But be sure that the money you give actually reaches those in need. It is best to give to charities that you already know. Most reputable charities will not call and ask for donations or come to your door. Also, beware of email requests, which may not really be from the organization named. It is safer to go to the website of the organization yourself and make your donation there.


·         Consumers who need further help should feel free to contact the New York State Department of Financial Services’ Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736 which operates from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Disaster related calls only should go to the disaster hotline at 800-339-1759, which will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for as long as needed.


 Tax Filing and Payment Deadline Extensions


·         Certain tax filing and payment deadlines for taxpayers who were directly affected by Hurricane Sandy have been extended to November 14, 2012. This covers filings and tax payments due during the period beginning October 26, 2012 and ending on or before November 13, 2012.


·         Additionally, the extension applies to all claims for refunds, including a protective claim associated with the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax.


·          All 62 New York State counties are eligible for these extensions since Governor Cuomo had declared a state of emergency in New York and President Obama has authorized federal aid and assistance for the State.


·         For further information, visit http://www.tax.ny.gov/bus/multi/sandy_relief.htm or call the Hurricane Sandy Helpline at (888) 769-7243.


 Special Waiver of Highway Use Tax &  IFTA Credentials Related to Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Efforts


·         For the period October 26, 2012, through January 24, 2013, motor vehicles operated on the highways of New York State, when exclusively providing disaster assistance, supplies, and equipment in response to Hurricane Sandy, do not need a HUT certificate of registration, HUT decal, IFTA license, or IFTA decals that are ordinarily required.


·          In addition, carriers operating their motor vehicles to provide disaster assistance, supplies, and equipment to aid in the relief efforts will not be liable for the highway use tax or fuel use tax on miles traveled and fuel consumed in New York State. This waiver applies only to travel in New York State. For further information, visit http://tax.ny.gov/pdf/notices/n12_10.pdf


Unemployment Insurance  --  Claimant Extension Date


·         Because of the loss of power and phone service in the storm impacted areas, many Unemployment Insurance claimants were unable to certify for their weekly benefits. The Department of Labor will extend the date of certification of unemployment benefits for individuals impacted by Hurricane Sandy from November 3, 2012 to November 10, 2012.


·         These individuals will need to call 1-888-209-8124 and speak to an agent to receive benefits for the prior week. If you are unable to access a phone to obtain benefits, individuals can visit any of the agency’s career centers.


Disaster Assistance Resource Guide:


http://www.211longisland.org/pdf/Disaster%20Guide%20-%20%20211%20Long%20Island%2011.2.12.pdf