Unclaimed Funds Information for New Yorkers who reside in areas most hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy is avalialble. Learn More.
Disaster Assistance for Individuals and Families
A number of resources are available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with temporary housing, home repair costs, and replacement of essential household items that are not covered by insurance if you are in a declared disaster area. Applicants for disaster assistance who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) should call 1-800-621-3362.
Information on assistance programs is available at:www.disasterassistance.gov and
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) offers disaster assistance guidance including safety tips and hotline numbers, at: www.dhses.ny.gov
For after-the-storm safety tips, see www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/hurricane-safety.cfm#after
NOTICE: Verizon underground copper cables in New York City were impacted by flooding from Hurricane Sandy and will need to be replaced. As a result, we are currently experiencing a problem with our phone lines at our 59 Maiden Lane offices in New York City. If you are trying to reach someone in these offices, please call 518.474.4040 for assistance.
Google’s interactive crisis map can help you locate emergency shelters, food and gas supplies, and official FEMA disaster areas, as well as providing information on power outages, traffic and more: http://www.google.org/crisismap/2012-sandy
Power outage information can be found at:
Protect yourself from price gouging:
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office has compiled the following list of Home Energy Assistance Resources. (If you are unable to contact your energy company, please contact the New York State Public Service Commission at (800) 342-3377.)
To report outages and receive updates:
- Central Hudson Gas & Electric: (845) 452-2700, www.centralhudson.com/about_us/news/october25_12.html
- ConEdison: 800) 75-CONED, apps1.coned.com/csol/reportoutage.asp
- National Grid: www1.nationalgridus.com/HowtoReportOutage
- NYSEG: (800) 572-1131, http://ebiz1.nyseg.com/cusweb/outagenotification.aspx
- Orange & Rockland: (877) 434-4100, https://apps2.coned.com/oronline/outage/electricoutage.aspx
- RG&E: (800) 743-1701, ebiz1.rge.com/cusweb/outagenotification.aspx
- Long Island Power Authority: (800) 490-0075, www.lipower.org/stormcenter/report.html
For a list of Red Cross shelters in your area, please refer to the Red Cross shelter locator.
Unemployment payments for up to 26 weeks may be available for loss of employment due to the disaster. To apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, you must first file for regular unemployment insurance by calling the New York State Department of Labor's toll-free telephone line at 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365). Applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-662-1220.
Loans for Losses Not Covered by Insurance
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans to cover residential losses not covered by insurance, including cars, furniture, and appliances. Loans are available for up to $200,000 for primary residences, and $40,000 for personal property (including renter losses). Loans may be increased up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind. Secondary homes or vacation properties are not eligible for these loans. Loans up to $2 million are available for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster's adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. For more information, visit www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/disaster-loans, or call 1-800-659-2955. To be eligible, you must first register with FEMA to obtain a FEMA registration ID number.
Undertaking Repair Work
If you have suffered damage to your home, it is understandable that you want necessary repairs done as quickly as possible. However, it is important to make sure the person or business you hire to do the work is competent and will do the work agreed to, for the price agreed to. Whether the work involves tree removal, external home or roof repairs, or cleanup inside the house, you should try to get multiple bids in order to get a fair price.
To protect your investment, be sure to use licensed contractors who can provide you with references (which you should check), proof of insurance, a contract showing the work to be done, and a time line for project completion and the related payment schedule. Beware of contractors who insist on upfront payments or immediate decisions.
For more guidance on selecting a contractor, visit the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s website, www.nyknowyourcontractor.com. On this website, you can find tips on what to do before hiring a contractor, search to see which contractors have been subject to legal action, and learn which contractors have had substantiated consumer complaints filed against them. If you become the victim of an unscrupulous contractor, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General on this site as well, or you may call the Attorney General’s general helpline at 1-800-771-7755 for more information. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTYyou should call 1-800-778-9898.
Watch Out For Hurricane-Related Scams
People who have been impacted by a hurricane, as well as those who want to help, should beware of scams related to the hurricane, some of which have reportedly already appeared on social networking sites and through email. In 2008, the National Consumer Law Center reported that in the two years after Hurricane Katrina, complaints to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office about contractor fraud rose to 6,000, up from about 150 per year before the storm.
If you want to donate money, clothing or other goods to assist the hurricane victims, be sure the organization you are contributing to is known, verifiable, and reputable. Never provide personal or financial information, such as your credit card number, to an entity, either online or over the telephone, unless you are sure the organization you are dealing with is legitimate. Be wary of any person or organization that uses high-pressure tactics.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers guidance on recognizing and avoiding home repair and other scams after a disaster at www.consumerfinance.gov/avoiding-loan-scams-after-a-natural-disaster/. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers to watch out for both charity and home repair scams in the wake of disasters. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/10/hurricane_sandy.shtm , or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).