Tonawanda News

July 27, 2013

State officials assist with property damage

By Jessica Bagley jessica.bagley@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Hundreds of people whose properties were damaged by last week’s rainstorm came to North Tonawanda Friday to receive assistance from state officials. 

“Primarily, we are registering people’s damage to help the city identify how widespread the flooding and sewer backup was,” Michael Romano, a special assistant in the state Department of Financial Services said. 

Officials were also on hand to help residents with filing claims for the damage their homes sustained. 

“We are helping with issues, with adjustors, and can make a recommendation to the company.”

The Department of Financial Services was created in 2011 to protect consumers and markets from fraud. The department oversees 1,700 insurance companies in New York, and can help residents properly file claims. People can also file a complaint with the department, and officials can help resolve disputes. 

Alice Glena, of the Town of Cambria, came to the center Friday for assistance in filing a claim as was her insurance agent’s advice. 

“My husband and I were on vacation when the storm happened,” she said. “The basement ended up being flooded, and we found out we didn’t have any insurance coverage.” 

While it is still unclear how many homes and businesses may have suffered flooding or other damage in the region, North Tonawanda City Hall, Department of Public Works and the city’s engineering office have been flooded with calls with inquiries and complaints since last Friday’s storm. An estimated 2,800 homes lost power in North Tonawanda during the weekend, and another 637 in the City of Tonawanda.  

As of 3 p.m. Monday, more than 150 people had come to the mobile command center for assistance, Romano said. The officials also spent time in Niagara Falls this week, where they assisted about 1,000 residents.

Impacted families and business are also urged to call the DFS Disaster hotline for assistance at 1-800-339-1759, which is available on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The state is urging residents who suffered damage as a result of the storm to file their claims, keep records of interactions with insurance companies, keep receipts for items purchased in relation to storm repairs and take an inventory of belongings that were lost.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that the mobile command center will be traveling to other Western New York locations in the coming days. The locations and times will be announced shortly, he said. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley