Investigators from the New York state attorney general's office remove boxes of documents seized from a search warrant at the Long Island offices of GEB HiRise in Uniondale, N.Y., on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. The company has been accused in civil lawsuits of submitting bogus inspection reports involving homes damaged in Superstorm Sandy.
After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Kathy Hanlon's life crumbled. Her Long Beach, N.Y., home had no electricity, her family was traumatized and one of her sons was getting sick. On top of that, there was the bureaucratic maze of flood insurance.
"I cried many times because I was so angry when I got off the phone with the insurance company," Hanlon says. "It was demeaning. We had to send them things repeatedly. We had to wait for phone calls. We had to wait for people to come visit the house."
Homeowners and elected officials have complained that the taxpayer-funded National Flood Insurance Program gives an incentive to private insurance companies to lowball flood claims by penalizing for overpayments, not underpayments.
FEMA has vowed to create a task force to fix this.
U.S. Senators in New York and New Jersey are calling on FEMA to investigate how insurance claims related to Superstorm Sandy were secretly rewritten to favor insurance companies at the expense of homeowners.
It was only by chance Deborah Ramey, of Long Beach, N.Y., discovered an engineering report about her home was rewritten to say that it wasn't Sandy that damaged her home and, thus, the damage was not covered by insurance.
In this Oct. 29, 2012 file photo, storm surge hits a small tree as winds from Hurricane Sandy reached Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Conn. Water from Long Island Sound spilled into roadways and towns along the Connecticut shoreline, the first signs of flooding from a storm that delivered a devastating surge of seawater.
Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy, several Northeastern states, including Connecticut and New York, are receiving $4.7 million in federal money to track down and remove debris, including boat remains, docks, and construction material. The grants were awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.