Northeast Braces For Another Storm With Wind, Rain
LYNN NEARY, HOST:
And concerns mounted today about a new storm headed to the Northeast. High winds and rain are predicted for tomorrow through much of the region that was hit last week by Hurricane Sandy. Today, the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, ordered parks closed and urged residents in some low-lying areas to evacuate.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: This is for everybody's safety. High winds are likely to bring down more limbs or entire trees. And obviously, the waves are very dangerous.
NEARY: The storm is hitting the region while residents of New York and New Jersey are just beginning the recovery process from Sandy. Hundreds of thousands of families still don't have power. Rail service is still hampered, and tangled commutes and long gas lines are becoming routine. And families who are hardest hit are trying to untangle the requirements for submitting FEMA and insurance claims, as we hear from NPR's Steve Henn.
STEVE HENN, BYLINE: When you walk up to Chris Anderson's house in Mastic Beach on Long Island, New York, the first thing you see is his name and phone number scrawled with a Sharpie on his white front door. So it's a pretty rank smell in here.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. This is actually better than it was. I was in here during the storm while there was three feet of water in the house, and the smell from the septic backing up was just - you almost couldn't make, you know, about 10 minutes or so. I was in trying to save some files while the water was coming up and got out of here.
HENN: Chris Anderson's little house is built on the edge of a salt marsh on the Great South Bay. It's more than 60 miles east of Manhattan. He wrote his number on the front door so when inspectors condemning houses in his neighborhood came by, they'd call him before they kicked the door in. And this place is pretty messed up.
ANDERSON: There's some structural damage. I was under the house already. There's some structural damage to the floor framing, things like that. And I mean, there's mortar coming out of the mortar joints between the blocks and the foundation. I'm going to assume that at this point they're probably going to have to knock the house down.
HENN: You might think that if you own a house near the beach or the bay on Long Island, you'd have to be rich. But it's not true. You can buy a little house here in Mastic Beach for less than $100,000. Chris works in heating and air-conditioning. Inside his living room on the floor, there's a doll covered in grit.
So you have a little girl?
ANDERSON: Yup. I have a daughter and I have a son, four and five years old.
ANDERSON: They were with - they're with my wife in Bay Shore, at the in-laws' house, following the storm.
HENN: Chris stayed behind with his brother to try and save what they could. Did you think the water will get his high?
ANDERSON: No. We were expecting maybe a foot or so, you know, not three feet. Low-lying windows in the front, water just poured right in the windows, water came in. I was in the house when it started taking on water. The water came in every single crevice, every base molding, all through the floors and rose up very, very fast.
HENN: In his son's room, there's a race car bed with a big plastic frame.
ANDERSON: The bed, when I was in here during the flood, was floating. The bed was up waist high and everything on top of it. So if you ever wanted to swim out of a storm, get a race car bed.
ANDERSON: That's for sure.
HENN: Instead, Anderson and his brother rode out the storm in the second story of his garage. He says now, the rush of adrenaline from that night is long gone. A nor'easter is expected to hit here tomorrow. In the city, Mayor Bloomberg is evacuating low-lying areas.
So where are you staying, with your in-laws?
ANDERSON: No. Right now, I have a dog, and I'm sleeping in my office. And I'm waiting for - from either advance FEMA money or an advance check from insurance adjuster or whenever he gets here to start looking for, I guess, a house to rent at this point. I'm not 100 percent sure.
HENN: Anderson applied for temporary housing assistance from FEMA, and he got it. But the only FEMA hotel on Long Island he could find is full. So he has been calling his insurance company and the adjuster twice a day for a week. It hasn't gotten through.
Today, a FEMA inspector came by, checked out the place, but denied his claim in less than an hour. Turns out FEMA won't pay claims if you're covered by flood insurance, and Anderson is. But since he can't reach his insurance adjuster, that's not a lot of help. And right now, he's not sure exactly what's in his policy because he lost it in the flood. Steve Henn, NPR News, New York.