Three Years Later, Sandy Survivors Remain Homeless

38 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2016 Last revised: 14 Jun 2016

See all articles by Melissa Luckman

Melissa Luckman

Touro Law Center Disaster Relief Clinic

Daniel Strafer

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Christina Lipski

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Date Written: April 1, 2016

Abstract

Americans have long felt the devastating financial burden of the catastrophic effects of flooding. With annual economic losses averaging a whopping fifty billion dollars per year, flooding has notoriously earned its place as the most costly, and unfortunately the most common, natural disaster to disrupt the United States. Flooding is the greatest financial danger among the possible hazards brought on by hurricanes, which often bring flooding hundreds of miles inland, placing communities that normally would not be affected by the strongest hurricane winds in great danger. A mere few inches of water due to flooding could mean damages costing upwards of five figures.

On October 28, 2012, Superstorm Sandy (“Sandy”) pushed its way ashore in New Jersey and New York with a devastating storm surge, causing significant damage estimated to be the second-costliest cyclone to hit the United States since 1900. The Superstorm and its relentless storm surge resulted in damage or destruction to a minimum of 650,000 houses. By November 7, 2012, the number of individuals that had registered for assistance exceeded 352,000 with over $403 million in assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) approved at that time.

According to New York recovery data provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as of October 6, 2014, over “$13.6 billion in total federal assistance [had] been provided for Individual Assistance grants, SBA low-interest disaster loans, National Flood Insurance Program payments and Public Assistance grants.” Specifically, upon referral by FEMA, more than 211,970 households received a total of over $1 billion in individual assistance though the Individual’s and Households Program ceasing on April 30, 2014. Furthermore, over $1.5 billion in disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration had been approved at that time for the assistance of 23,216 businesses and individuals. Finally, 57,244 National Flood Insurance Program policy-holders had received flood insurance payments totaling over $3.9 billion in New York as of October 6, 2014. Thereafter, according to FEMA’s fact sheet published March 18, 2016, flood insurance law-suits have paid out in excess of $147,000,000, and the FEMA Sandy Claims Review Process has issued payments in the amount of $31,106,000.

As the third year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy passes, and billions of dollars in flood insurance and disaster-related assistance have been paid to homeowners, thousands of homeowners remain displaced or are living in a home that remains in disrepair. As of October 29, 2015, a poll indicated that 41% of homeowners in New Jersey were still in need of money to fix their storm-damaged homes. In fact, most Sandy-affected homeowners and Sandy advocates would agree that we are still at the initial stages of recovery.

This article will reflect and analyze the recovery in the three years since the storm, addressing: (I) Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and necessary amendments to the Act; (II) a critical examination of FEMA’s IHP disaster grant re-coupment process; (III) FEMA fraud and the Sandy Claims Review Process; and (IV) the importance of the collaboration of the legal and non-legal non-profit agencies immediately post-disaster.

Keywords: Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Sandy, Coastal Floods, Touro Law Center, Disaster Law Program, Disaster Relief Clinic, Recovery, FEMA, National Flood Insurance Program, Resiliency, Non-profit, Public Interest, Disaster Case Manager

Suggested Citation

Luckman, Melissa and Strafer, Daniel and Lipski, Christina, Three Years Later, Sandy Survivors Remain Homeless (April 1, 2016). 32 Touro L. Rev. 313 (2016); Touro Law Center Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 16-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2789098

Melissa Luckman (Contact Author)

Touro Law Center Disaster Relief Clinic ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States
631-761-7068 (Phone)

Daniel Strafer

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

Christina Lipski

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

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