2013-11-08 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

Sandy Wasn’t The Worst Of It
By Susan E. O'Hare

We recently marked the one year anniversary of an event that changed my family's and so many others lives forever. We thought we were prepared - we were not. We thought that years of doing the right thing - paying bills, working, obtaining appropriate insurance would serve us well - we were wrong. We believed that our government, who so willingly give humanitarian aid all over the world, would surely have our back - wrong again.

I'm not the most politically astute person around - however I do know what is right and what is complete BS. So many people have asked with good intention, what's taking so long?

This question causes my insides to flip and my blood to boil - not at the asker but at the system. Post storm was the first time in our lives we have accepted charitable donations and I can say with integrity that it was solely out of need for my children and their survival. The clothing, food, cleaning supplies and gift cards were appreciated more than words can express.

Benefits and concerts raised millions of dollars. Surely this money would offset what insurance would not cover - wrong again.

After the initial clean up and spending a month in my sister’s basement, we rented an apartment for what we thought would be about six months. We didn’t want to move home until ALL work was done. What fools we are!

We then became embroiled in a war with Liberty Mutual. We had paid our premiums diligently - never missed a payment and expected fair payout for damage occurred.

Payment came in March 2013 - and if we lived in Arkansas and did the work ourselves we might be able to cover the remaining balance it didn’t - but in NY they had only scratched the surface.

Then came the new height requirements finalized (I hope) in May, 2013. Hire an architect, get plans drawn up, file for permits in the beginning of August 2013. Public adjustor, lawyer, lawsuits in place now trying to resolve claim.

One year later and waiting on building permits - DOB is in no hurry to get these out.

We are still in our apartment, paying rent, mortgage and storage for our belongings.

Which leads me to the money issue again. So many ask- ‘Well, didn’t FEMA help you out?”

For three months FEMA gave us rental assistance money and then it was deemed that we make too much money to qualify for further aid. My major pet peeve of the whole debacle is we make too much money to qualify for aid; we don’t make enough money to get back on our feet without aid, so we are in the middle- the forgotten masses.

My theory is government needs to pander to the wealthy to ensure their votes - so hence they get their permits. Assistance programs for the extremely poor make for great photo shoots and campaign resume. And don’t get me started on Build it Back and various other programs that want you to learn to tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon and fly to the moon and back before they will view your application - only to deny it due to their statute of limitations being surpassed!!!

I implore all who want to help out and make a difference, when the next need arises and you want to help someone in need - go directly to the area involved - pick out a family and hand the money over to them. No receipt needed - if it is truly your intention to help then walk away knowing you did just that will be enough.

DO NOT donate to Red Cross, telethons, concerts etc. - your money is caught up in political BS and in the end probably only 10% will ever be used for its true intention. If the disaster is in another state, contact a school, scout troop or church in the area and send donations directly to them - it is the only way to ensure your good intentions are utilized properly.

As I read about Schumer's vow that 1.4 Billion dollars of Hurricane Sandy aid will be distributed to homeowners in 2014 - I scratch my head and wonder why in 2014 when the hurricane occurred in 2012???

We sure can get aid to other parts of the world in a really fast way when it is needed while we Americans continue to fight for money that was donated to our cause in the first place!!!!

To all who have helped us - thank you!! Hopefully next 10/29 there will be a different story to write.

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