Elected officials gathered outside the home of Vincent and Terri Ann Carrozza on Sunday, March 1 to urge all Brooklynites who suffered property damage during Superstorm Sandy that were denied or underpaid to resubmit their flood insurance claims.
The urgency, Councilmember Mark Treyger explained, rode in on the coattails of multiple fraudulent reports in engineering evaluations used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Carrozzas, he said, are just one example of that.
“These are property owners whose homes were destroyed by Sandy and who were paying for flood insurance,” the Coney Island councilmember told this paper, “and now, these damage assessments are claiming that a flood did not damage their home. When the whole world saw pouring rain drench most of our coastal community, the insurance companies are claiming something else.”
Treyger was joined outside the Carrozzas’ Gerritsen Beach home by Borough President Eric Adams and Councilmember Alan Maisel. The three of them are calling on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to appoint a special monitor that will oversee all future claims and submissions, in hopes of stopping the fraud from snowballing.
“Superstorm Sandy flooded our homes, and now FEMA and the insurance companies are drowning our homeowners’ spirits,” said Adams, encouraging all affected Brooklynites to send copies of resubmitted claims to his office so that members of his Constituent Assistance Center can conduct a follow-up on their behalf. “To think that engineering reports were altered, lives were upended and government may have participated is inexcusable.”
Maisel, who represents parts of Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach and Mill Basin, agreed.
“My office has received complaints from numerous constituents who have not been treated fairly by either FEMA and various insurance companies,” he said. “It is about time that these inequities are investigated.”
“This is, in our view, criminal,” added Treyger, stressing that transparency issues of this kind also slow down the de Blasio administration’s reboot of Build it Back, a government-funded program established in June, 2013 for Sandy-related recovery. “It is unconscionable that hardworking families that endured so much during Sandy are now being victimized by their insurance companies as they attempt to rebuild two years later.”
The message is simple, Treyger stressed.
“If you’ve been denied, or if you’ve given up hope, our message is this: Don’t give up,” he said. “We are on your side.”