Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the more frequently asked questions regarding assistance in the wake of Storm Sandy.
QUESTION: WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?
ANSWER: Residents in the following counties are eligible to apply for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester. You may apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-FEMA or TTY at 800-462-7585. These toll-free numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. It would be helpful to have the following information available when you apply:
Current telephone number
Address at the time of the disaster and current address
Social Security number
A general list of damages and losses
Bank routing number for any direct deposit
FEMA offers the following types of assistance:
Disaster unemployment assistance
Emergency food stamps
Low-interest loans or grants for housing
Low-interest loans or grants to repair or replace personal property
FEMA assistance will not normally compensate you for your entire loss. If you have insurance, the government may help to pay for part of the loss not covered by insurance.
QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION? CAN THEY HELP?
ANSWER: Business loans are available to people who have suffered damage to business property or economic injury. These low-interest loans are available through the Small Business Administration to repair or replace damaged property not covered by insurance and to provide working capital. The SBA assists not only small businesses, but also offers loans to businesses of all sizes, nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. Visit www.sba.gov/disaster or call 1-800-659-2955.
QUESTION: I THINK THAT AN UNSCRUPULOUS BUSINESS IS CHARGING AN ILLEGAL OR EXCESSIVE AMOUNT FOR ITEMS THAT VICTIMS NEED. WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP THIS PRACTICE?
ANSWER: New York State law prohibits excessive increases in prices for essential goods and services during times of market disturbance, such as a disaster. If you believe you are being charged an excessive amount for goods or services, you can call the New York State Attorney General’s office at 1-800-771-7755 or go to the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.ny.gov.
QUESTION: HOW DO I APPLY FOR STATE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS? IS THERE A WAITING PERIOD BEFORE I AM ELIGIBLE?
ANSWER: Federal disaster unemployment assistance is available to provide financial support to anyone who has lost their job as a result of Hurricane Sandy and live or work in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties. To apply for unemployment benefits or disaster unemployment assistance, you should call the Department of Labor’s Telephone Claims Center at 1-888-209-8124 by December 3, 2012.
QUESTION: HOW DO I GET INFORMATION ABOUT INSURANCE?
ANSWER: If you have experienced property damage or losses, you should contact your insurer as soon as possible to file a claim. The New York State Department of Financial Services 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.
QUESTION: I HEARD SOMETHING ABOUT THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS BEING TOLLED IN SOME CASES. IS THIS TRUE?
ANSWER: On October 31, 2012, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued an Executive Order to temporarily suspend the statute of limitations for commencement of actions and deadlines for filing appeals in New York State courts in certain types of actions. The full text of the Governor’s Executive Order is available online at http://www.governor.ny.gov/executiveorder/52.
QUESTION: I AM UNABLE TO TIMELY FILE MY NEW YORK STATE QUARTERLY TAXES. WHAT DO I DO?
ANSWER: Certain tax filing and payment deadlines for taxpayers who were directly affected by Hurricane Sandy have been extended to November 14, 2012. This covers filings and tax payments due during the period beginning October 26, 2012 and ending on or before November 13, 2012. This extension applies in all 62 counties of New York State. For more information, visit www.tax.ny.gov or call 1-888-769-7243.
QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT FEDERAL TAXES?
ANSWER: The Internal Revenue Service has announced tax relief for certain affected taxpayers to postpone various tax and filing deadlines that started in late October. The deadline has been extended to February 1, 2013. For more information, visit www.irs.gov.
QUESTION: AND NEW YORK CITY TAXES?
ANSWER: The New York City Department of Finance has announced emergency extensions of filing and payment dates for certain taxpayers. For details, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/home/home.shtml.
QUESTION: WHAT OTHER RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE?
ANSWER: There are both public and private organizations providing assistance to storm victims:
New York City Disaster Assistance Centers, shelter, and food/water: http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2012b/pr392-12-static.html
Nassau County Disaster Assistance: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/
Suffolk County Disaster Assistance: http://scoem.suffolkcountyny.gov/
Westchester County Disaster Assistance: http://www3.westchestergov.com/
Rockland County Disaster Assistance: https://rocklandgov.com
Red Cross of Greater New York: http://www.nyredcross.org/
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York: http://www.catholiccharitiesny.org/
The Salvation Army: http://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/
Free Assistance from LawHelp NY - frequently updated
Pro Bono Partnership www.probonopartner.org
NYS Department of Financial Services
Contact Storm Hotline 1-800-339-1759
(Offers help with insurance questions, but also has other disaster-related information)
Google Crisis Map: is one of the best maps to help you find local shelters and traffic conditions in your area: http://google.org/crisismap/2012-sandy.