Streams

Homeowner Asks 'Where's My Insurance Money?'

Monday, December 17, 2012

WNYC
Stephen Drimalas, in his Honda, grapples with Sandy-related paperwork. (Jim O'Grady/WNYC)

Seven weeks ago, Stephen Drimalas hopped in his Honda and escaped with his life through rising floodwaters in Ocean Breeze, Staten Island. The storm surge reached eight feet on his block, swamping his modest home, pushing several houses off their foundations and drowning an elderly neighbor who lived across the street.

Drimalas lost everything, and has been staying in different places almost every night: with a friend, in a motel room paid by FEMA, in his car. Throughout the ordeal, he’s been determined to rebuild. "I want to stay here,” he said. “It's nice. And, you know, this is mine. I own it. I do what I want with it."

But after weeks of battling insurance companies, including the FEMA-administered National Flood Insurance, his determination is fraying. His homeowner’s policy only paid out $1,170, and National Flood won’t say when it will be settling his claim. So Drimalas, who’s lived in his home in Staten Island for seven years, is thinking of moving to Florida.

 FEMA spokesman Don Caetano wouldn't comment on Drimalas' case, citing privacy concerns. He says National Flood Insurance has received about 55,000 claims related to Sandy. He doesn't know how many of those have been settled but he says $463 million has been paid out so far.

“$463 million?,” Drimalas said when told of the number. “Well I don't know where it went but none came my way."

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Comments [2]

joan

Why after almost 4 months are my daughter and grandkids still homeless...Where is the money and help. They are making mortgage payments and taxes and insurance every month but don't have a home no walls floors electric water etc....Moonachie is hurting...someone please HELP....

Feb. 25 2013 05:24 PM
Ken Druse from New Jersey

I have flood insurance with a $2,000 deductible. After Hurricane Irene and tropical storm Lee, I had adjusters come. Most of the damage was to my basement and its contents: stairs, furnace, refrigerator, mold, etc. (Insurance would cover a freezer in a basement, but not a refrigerator.)
I finally received an estimate for damage coverage: $1,990. Seems a little more than ironic, doesn't it -- $10 below my deductible.
Fema to me -- "good luck."

Dec. 17 2012 07:01 AM

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