Hurricane Sandy Hotline Contacts and Numbers
New York State Hurricane Sandy Helpline: 1-888-769-7243
For Aging/Elderly: 1-800-342-9871
For Businesses seeking storm help (power issues, flooding, etc..):
1-888-769-7243 / firstname.lastname@example.org
WAIVER OF FEES FOR FLOOD DISASTER VICTIMS HAS EXPIRED
Executive Order 69, which was issued on November 9, 2012 in the aftermath of the historic flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy, has expired as of today, Monday, April 8. As of this date, the fees charged by the Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services for issuing duplicate license certificates and pocket and identification cards that were lost or damaged in the disaster are back in effect. Also back in effect are the fees charged by the Division of Corporations, State Records and Uniform Commercial Code for copies of any document or record on file with the Division.
There is never a fee to apply for FEMA disaster assistance or to receive it.
There is 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.
Stress, anxiety and depression are common reactions after a disaster. These sentiments are exasperated among the mentally ill. For assistance with these services, please contact the following:
1. Families Together of New York State - has chapters in every county and borough throughout the State. http://www.ftnys.org/ or
2. To find a mental health provider in a particular community, log on to the OMH website and insert the zip code or county, http://bi.omh.ny.gov/bridges/index 1-800-597-8481
3. SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. For information & referrals re. disaster-related resources such as shelter and mental health assistance call '2-1-1'or visit http://www.211.org/
The CPSC warns about the dangers related to the use of generators, grills, camp stoves and candles after the storm.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has alerted consumers to these product recalls:
Master Forge Gas Grills
Portable Generators by Champion Power Equipment
Tricam Industries, Easy Reach Step Stool
Sharper Image USB Wall Chargers
For a comprehensive list of latest consumer product recalls visit
Current recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps, in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy will automatically receive 50 percent of their October monthly SNAP benefit amount the week of November 5 to replace food lost as a result of the storm. The benefits are being automatically issued to SNAP recipients in Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan and Westchester counties, as well as at least 82 zip codes in New York City, including all of Staten Island. Additional zip codes in New York City that experienced extended power loss may be added as more details about the number of households affected becomes available. The updated list can be found here: http://otda.ny.gov/news/SNAP-replacements.pdf.
Other current SNAP recipient households that have lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to Hurricane Sandy are also entitled to replacement benefits. The loss must be reported by Wednesday, November 28, 2012, and the household must return a signed and completed form, found at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/2291.pdf, by close of business on Monday, December 10, 2012. New York City residents should use this version of the form: http://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/2291A.pdf.The form is also available 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.
To find a shelter near you, visit http://www.redcross.org/find-help/shelter.
Power Outage Updates
For hourly outage reports & utility company contact information, visit: http://www.governor.ny.gov/poweroutageinfo
Avoiding Storm Recovery 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. To file a Consumer Complaint visit The Department of State Division of Consumer Protection or call the Consumer Assistance Hotline at (518) 474-8583 or (800) 697-1220.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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 is 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.
- Re-Entering Your Home
- Oil Spills
- Cleaning Up a Home After a Flood
- Flooded Home Gardens and Crop Fields
- Flooded Septic Systems
- Disinfecting Drinking Water Wells
- Labs Certified to Test Drinking Water
- Boil Water Notices
- Flood Sediment on Outdoor Properties
- What to do with Food in Your Home After a Flood
- Recommended Vaccines
- Health Care Insurance and Provider Information
- Diabetes Medication and Supplies
- WIC Information
- Prescription Medication Information
- Additional Flood Related Information
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 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.