By Anessa V. Cohen
The year-and-a-half since Hurricane Sandy has been quite a ride. It’s like that new roller coaster they are installing in Coney Island—going up and down and twisting around! We have gone from high to low and then high again, chasing one agency or another, trying to do whatever it takes to get back on the road to “normal” again after coping with whatever damage that storm dealt out.
While there were so many different levels of damage that people suffered, from minimal to maximum—maximum being total loss of house as well as contents—we have been pretty much following the same up-and-down route. We are all trying to extract—yes, that is the right word—money for rebuilding from our flood insurance companies, from FEMA, from our homeowners insurance companies, from the mortgage companies freezing Sandy disbursement checks, from New York State, from New York Rising, and even from “Clean and Seed,” a program that was started last year to fix the landscaping of our properties from the erosion and debris of the Sandy floodwaters, but which was again cut off in the middle just as it was getting close to helping us all.
I have spent many an article discussing the difficulties of trying to get the flood insurance companies—and by extension FEMA, which underwrites all the flood insurance companies—to step up to the plate and pay each homeowner what they are entitled to in settlement monies based on their flood insurance policies. I have also spoken about the insensitivity and indifference of the mortgage companies holding mortgages on the various homes that got hit by Sandy; when the insurance checks to repair said properties started coming through, they were frozen or put in escrow. Effectively, these mortgage banks were holding already overwhelmed homeowners hostage while dumping new reams of requirements on them in paperwork and inspections in order to retrieve even one dollar from monies finally sent to them in settlements from the insurance companies.
With all I have just mentioned, you would think that I finally ran out of things to complain about regarding the government’s assistance, compassion, sensitivity, as well as largesse (I am not sure this word is actually found in the government’s dictionary). Well, I haven’t run out of things to say. But today, I go on record as saying that I have had enough of complaining about the stinginess of those who gave us funding for the Clean and Seed program, only to dangle it in front of our faces and then whip it away like bait on a fish hook!
I refuse to let another summer go by without enjoying my outdoors and my landscaping. I realize that I will have to bite the bullet, rather than chase after that Clean and Seed program. Clean and Seed can be added to the list of government programs that were touted and bragged about by the officials after Hurricane Sandy only to have them not put their money where their mouth(s) were.
With this in mind, I took out my own wallet and arranged to bring two truckloads of topsoil to be spread throughout my property after removing the top layer. Taking off the top layer, which contained many contaminants from the flood waters, was what was suggested and part of what the Clean and Seed program was supposed to do for affected homeowners.
When I am done with all this work that the Clean and Seed program was supposed to take care of for me at government expense, I will spend the rest of the summer sitting with a nice cool drink, pad in hand, making a list of all the government officials who promised us all this assistance after Hurricane Sandy, only to disappear and quietly pull the plug on the actual funding after the fact, so I may be sure not to vote for any of them come November. I suggest that all those also affected do the same! v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker and originator with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.