BY TRONE DOWD
A Southeast Queens congressman is calling on the federal government to push an upcoming deadline for insurance claims meant to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) recently sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator William Long on behalf of his constituents, asking for the approaching Oct. 25 deadline to be extended. Meeks argued that some of the claimants who are desperately in need of financial assistance have had a difficult time trying to get the help—but due to no fault of their own.
“[Sandy] wreaked havoc—both economic and emotional—and took many lives,” Meeks writes in his letter. “Many of our constituents were and still are flood insurance policyholders. Yet, when they submitted flood insurance claims, through no fault of their own, they were erroneously underpaid because FEMA mishandled their claims.”
Meeks said that FEMA attempted to remedy the issue by reaching out to more than nearly 144,000 New York City residents who filed for insurance to hear their claims again. However, he said that the effort may not have been enough. The original deadline, which was scheduled for August, was pushed to October to further accommodate those who have been delayed by FEMA’s mishandling of the claims.
“Were your agency to fulfill its obligation to our constituents free of errors, they would not have had to endure this exercise,” Meeks wrote. “Indeed, in the wake of all of their suffering, many claimants have maintained a near constant struggle in dealing with these follow-up claims.”
The letter was co-signed by 14 of Meeks’ congressional colleagues, including U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn).
“In 2012, Superstorm Sandy destroyed the property and uprooted the lives of thousands of New Yorkers,” Meeks said. “Since then, we have worked painstakingly to overcome the hardships that Sandy wrought with the aid of FEMA and their Sandy Claims Division, but there is still work to be done.”
Meeks said that he had hoped FEMA and New York City could “continue our partnership, so we can finish rebuilding.”