The following is a press release from the Town of Hempstead. It has been slightly edited by Patch. The hours of operation for the center were updated on Dec. 5.
Over a month has passed since the night Hurricane Sandy changed our community forever. From the moment daylight broke over miles of sodden, wrecked homes, schools, houses of worship, personal property and irreplaceable memorabilia, thousands in our community have stood firmly against rising tides of homelessness, financial ruin, and weakening personal independence and family stability most have long taken for granted.
Now a new storm is threatening to drown our community: a tsunami of paperwork, red tape, and bureaucratic double-talk. As many are now painfully aware, restoring and rebuilding a wrecked community is highly dependent on aid from FEMA, the cooperation of insurance companies, access to grants and low-interest loans, and various other assistance and intervention.
Yet, with each passing day, progress is further hampered and hamstrung by epidemic-levels of inaccurate, often contradictory information from faceless voices on federal and state relief agency 1-800-hotline operators, and insurance company "customer service specialists," who serve to locate any technicality possible to avoid honoring policies they sold.
In response to the urgent need for coordinated federal and state aid and intervention resources, Steve Zuller, Rabbi Mordechai Kaminetsky and Young Israel of Woodmere, along with Nassau County Legislator Howard Kopel, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Town of Hempstead Councilmen Anthony Santino and James Darcy, in conjunction with Nassau County's Office of Emergency Management, have joined efforts to establish a formal Disaster Recovery and Relief Information Center in the heart of the Five Towns.
Since the storm, numerous disaster recovery resource centers have been established in Nassau County and the Rockaways. But until now, none were comfortably accessible to Five Towns residents. Now, rather than traveling a half hour or more to get a straight answer, or otherwise having to rely on faceless, unaccountable hotlines, Five Towns residents affected by Hurricane Sandy can turn to a team of experienced relief specialists with answers and information, and who will be there for them, for as long as they are needed.
The Five Towns Disaster Recovery and Relief Information Center is staffed with specialists assigned by the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management from essential programs such as FEMA Individual Assistance and Public Assistance, FEMA Hazard Mitigation, SBA, IRS, STEP, NYS Dept. of Financial Services to assist with insurance issues, NYS Dept. of Health & Aging, social and rehabilitation services, crisis counseling agencies, and from the Town of Hempstead Building Department and Office of the Receiver of Taxes to guide those in need with construction permits, engineering, and zoning, and taxation issues.
They are on site to assist with FEMA and SBA applications, intervene with sticky insurance claims, verify information, and facilitate solutions for various other issues. Each specialist is an expert in their department procedures and protocols, and because they are dispatched to the Five Towns center on long-term assignment, residents can feel confident that any information they receive will be accurate, and that those who deliver it are accountable for the intervention they provide.
The Five Towns Disaster Recovery and Relief Information Center will remain in the community as long as needed. It is located at the Young Israel of Woodmere — at 859 Peninsula Blvd., in the Saul Kaufmann Social Hall — and will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.