Councilman Lew Fidler sent out this e-mail, summarizing some of the aid programs available to those of us affected by Hurricane Sandy.
— FEMA —
Brooklyn has been declared eligible for Individual Assistance up to $31,400, this is direct aid for losses caused by the Hurricane that are not covered by insurance. FEMA has a number of assistance programs that you can speak to them about, including rental payments for temporary housing if your house is unlivable, as well as grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items. Unemployment payments may also become available to assist workers who temporarily lost their jobs because of the storm. For programs related to your home, we’ve been told you should register with FEMA first (I’ll repeat the number below), then call your insurance company. FEMA will come out after your insurance company, and they will need to know the company’s damage estimates.
— Red Cross —
We are told the Red Cross is making medical supplies and medicines available for those who need them or may have lost theirs in the storm. They can also provide emergency shelter and other aid. Please contact them for more information:
— Salvation Army —
They offer a variety of disaster social services. For more information, call:
Phone: 1-718-238-2991 (86th Street Bklyn office, for zip codes: 11235, 11229)
Or 1-718-345-7050/7052/2632 (Brownsville office, for zip codes: 11234, 11210, 11236)
— Human Resources Administration —
If you are a recipient of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – also known as food stamps) and food purchased with that aid was destroyed in the storm, then the Human Resources Administration may be able to replace your loss. Currently, you would have to apply for this by appearing in person at a Food Stamp Center and filling out form LDSS-2291. You can call the following number to find out which centers are closed due to the storm:
— NYS Department of Financial Services —
The Governor established a Financial Services Disaster Hotline for questions related to insurance claims (be sure to call this number if your insurance company is trying to charge you a hurricane deductible). The hotline is staffed Mon-Fri from 8am to 8pm, and Sat-Sun from 9am to 4pm.
— Small Business Administration —
The U.S. Small Business Administration have loan programs to help businesses in declared disaster areas. For more information and questions on eligibility:
— NYC Economic Development Corporation —
In coordination with the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services (see below for more from them) and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, they are coordinating a set of services to assist small businesses recover from the hurricane. You can contact the office of the Brooklyn Business Solutions Center at:
— NYC Department of Small Business Services —
Small to Mid sized businesses can seek emergency business loans, capped at $10,000. For more information, reach out to a NYC Business Solutions Account Manager via the link to a contact form below.
— Industrial Development Authority —
Mid to Large sized businesses that need to rebuild can request an emergency sales tax letter from NYC IDA allowing businesses to avoid payment of NYC and NYS sales tax on materials purchased for rebuilding. This is meant for projects costing $500,000 or more. For more information, e-mail Shin Mitsugi at:
— New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) —
They are providing disaster loans to businesses suffering storm or flood damage.
— FEMA Disaster Legal Services —
If you are facing legal issues from Hurricane Sandy you can seek legal assistance, whether it is a matter of employment law, landlord-tenant law, bankruptcy, or similar issues. They can also assist with the filing of federal aid claims.
Online: www.disasterlegalaid.org— Legal Aid Society —Disaster relief legal assistance is being offered for families and individuals. To find out about their services:Phone: 1-212-577-3300Online: www.legal-aid.org
— Office of Emergency Management’s Hurricane Sandy Helpline —
OEM has provided a general hurricane helpline for New York State residents. They can provide updated information on available shelters and other resources.
Claims with New York City:
You can file a claim with the City Comptroller to seek restitution for losses sustained from water damage (for example the backing up of sewer systems, or damage from a City tree) or other property loss related to the City. How to apply:
By Mail: If you need a paper copy of the forms mailed to you, feel free to contact my office at (718) 241-9330.
If you have flood insurance and are filing a claim then please know that you can take reasonable steps to protect your property from additional damage. Save all receipts paid to any contractor, so they can be part of your total settlement. Photograph or, if possible, take a video of the damage – both of the property and of damaged items. You may be asked to keep all damaged items until the adjuster has visited you to inspect them. Be aware that most flood insurance plans require that a claim be made within 30 days.
If you do not have flood insurance then you should know that FEMA offers a National Flood Insurance Plan. While this plan would not apply to the just-passed storm, it would help protect you against future storms. For information on the plan:
Internal Revenue Service:
Tax law provisions may help individuals and businesses recover financially from the disaster. Businesses may be able to deduct losses of property and individuals may be able to deduct personal property losses not covered by insurance or other assistance. In some cases, the deductions can be applied to the prior year’s taxes or tax refunds for the coming year can be expedited. For more information:
— Cleaning Costs — These costs may be reimbursable, whether through insurance or disaster aid, so keep all receipts for all work you have done or equipment (pumps, etc.) you purchase.
— Pictures — I can’t stress enough how important it is that you document all of the damage as much as you possibly can. Pictures are vital.