I have seen many clients and cases since I started to work in the Disaster Relief Clinic. We listen carefully to each person about what what they are going through, what he/she should do, and provide guidance to the most appropriate solution. Sometimes laws and necessary procedures are very complicated. Sometimes several issues create complexity. Counseling in this clinic is very important. I am very proud to help clients take a step to solve their problems.
In recent days it has been announced that local towns are in line to receive $240 million from the state. The funding will be aimed at strengthening infrastructure to fortify Long Island from another Hurricane Sandy like disaster. This will be a tremendous help for towns laying close to or at sea level. After Hurricane Sandy, local residents have recognized an increased volume of flood waters running through neighborhood streets south of Montauk highway.
One town in particular is Lindenhurst. Lindenhurst is in Suffolk County and rests right along the Great South Bay. The town is near sea level and suffered severe damage as a result of this. County and Town Officials have come up with methods in flood proofing its residents domiciled near the water which include dredging canals, raising roads, and improving drainage. According Jo Napolitano of Newsday, Lindenhurst is in line to be allocated $6,120,465. Although Lindenhurst officials do not know for certain what the state funding will be put to, residents can have some piece of mind that they are not forgotten and that there is a progress being made.
I know sometimes it is difficult to stay positive when all you see are obstacles in your way. When you feel overwhelmed, stop what you’re doing, take a breath and get your thoughts together. Understandably, things can get out of hand, especially when you have deadlines coming up, paperwork you don’t have, people aren’t returning your calls. Sometimes you just want to throw your arms up in the air and give up hope. But that is exactly what they want you to do. The more people that give up, the less people they have to deal with. That is why you must always stay positive. Deadline coming up? Find a way to get it extended, if not, put everything else to the side and get it done. Paperwork is missing? Make a list of what you need, cross out what you have and start at the top. People aren’t calling you back? Call again. Leave another message and keep track of all your phone calls. This way, when they tell you they never got it, you have the date and time you called. Eventually, with some positivity and patience, that deadline will be met, that paperwork will be found and that person will call you back.
Since becoming part of the Disaster Relief Clinic, I am both saddened and proud. It has been some 16 months and counting since Sandy and there is a large part of Long Island, and elsewhere that has been affected, that has yet to be rebuilt. It’s unbelievable how many families have been denied payment or has been underpaid because of a technicality in the terms of an insurance policy. These families have paid faithfully to the insurance companies for years to protect them from the devastating effects of something like Sandy, yet, that was disregarded and these families were left to fend for themselves. Fortunately, the Disaster Relief Clinic was created and have been helping families in those situations. I am proud to be part of something that is trying to help our fellow community members that have been devastated by Sandy. Whether it be assistance for various aspects of life that has been affected by Sandy or filing an actual lawsuit against an insurer that has refused to pay or that has underpaid a homeowner, our clinic is there to help.
ABC News recently tried to get to the bottom of why so many Long Islanders and other Sandy victims– thousands!– still aren’t in their homes. One major culprit: underpayment of insurance policies. ABC turned to Touro Law Center’s Disaster Relief Clinic Director Ben Rajotte to learn more about why this is and what we’ve been doing to work with victims to help them to become survivors.
Read more about the story on the ABC News website here.
The next walk-in clinic for Sandy-affected households is at the Sandy Resource Fair on Wednesday, February 26th at 6:00pm to 9:00pm. It is located at the Lindell School, 601 Lindell Boulevard, Long Beach. Come to this event to meet face to face with an attorney, no appointment necessary. With special thanks to Legislator Denise Ford, the City of Long Beach, and Michael Raab.
For insurance-related issues, there are very fast approaching deadlines. It is very important to identify what your deadlines may be, and to read carefully the December Update linked on the right. Please feel free to email brajotte(at)tourolaw.edu with any questions.