Claims deadline arrives for Lindenwood flood victims

Claims deadline arrives for Lindenwood flood victims

The deadline is up for Lindenwood residents looking to file a claim for reimbursement with the city comptroller's office.  File Photo

The deadline is up for Lindenwood residents looking to file a claim for reimbursement with the city comptroller’s office. File Photo

Time is up for anyone in Lindenwood looking to file a claim after a devastating flood battered the neighborhood back in April.

It has been months since residents of Lindenwood saw their homes severely damaged in what should have been a routine rainstorm on April 30, but victims still said they were anxiously waiting for relief. City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office has been accepting claims since the flood, but that 90-day statute period came to an end July 28.

The comptroller’s office said last week it was sending out inspectors to evaluate homes that were damaged and in need of repair. The comptroller’s bureau of law and adjustment has given his office permission to move the claims reimbursement process instead of waiting for the DEP.

“As of this week, the comptroller’s office has started making offers of settlements to flooding victims, while inspections of additional homes continue,” a spokesperson for Stringer said.

But Joann Ariola, president of the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic, said she and her neighbors were still waiting for the DEP to hold up its end of the deal.

Bruce Baron, an attorney who is helping some residents through the legal process since the flood, said there was still one final option for any victims who still have not submitted their claims for reimbursement. In a statement, Baron said residents who either forgot to file a claim on time or simply were unaware of the 90-day deadline could still file a late notice of claim and ask the state Supreme Court to grant them permission.

“The application must be made and if not granted, an action cannot be brought by the flood victim against the city,” he said. “It’s really a shame that the city is capitalizing on some victims’ reluctance or reliance and not informing them of crucial dates and actions they must take.”

DEP Deputy Commissioner Vincent Sapienza visited the civic last month along with Mario Bruno, assistant commissioner for intergovernmental affairs, and fielded questions over how the city planned on handling water damage claims. The agency admitted that a malfunctioning sewer facility was to blame but offered little else to the residents that evening.

Ariola fired off a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio last week blasting the Department of Environmental Protection for failing to answer the civic’s most simple questions regarding when and how they will see the money to help heal the wounds left by the flood. All they needed, she said, was a letter from the DEP admitting fault and addressed to Stringer’s office to start cutting checks.

“The people of Lindenwood do not care whom the DEP has to go after for this malfunction. Man up as they say, and do whatever it takes to get our residents the compensation they justly deserve,” Ariola said. “Once Commissioner [Emily] Lloyd acknowledged responsibility, almost 60 days ago, the residents should have been paid. It has no bearing on our community who the DEP further wants to hold accountable.”

The DEP released a statement soon after the April 30 storm finding its Spring Creek Combined Sewer Overflow Retention Facility on Flatlands Avenue “did not function as intended” and reached capacity the night of the rainfall.

By Phil Corso


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