New Yorkers whose homes were damaged by Sandy but could receive insurance money due to the so-called ‘earth movement’ clause are eligible for full compensation from the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced over the weekend.
Under National Flood Insurance Program regulations, damage caused by the movement of soil or earth — even as the result of flooding — is not eligible for coverage. This affected many homeowners in the Five Towns, including the Schochet family, whose Woodmere home was flooded after Sandy, causing the foundation to crumble. Their insurance company denied their claim due to the earth movement clause.
“It simply does not make sense that some New Yorkers who were just as hard hit by the same storms as others cannot be compensated for their losses,” Cuomo said in a release. “That is why the state is stepping up to bridge this unfair gap in insurance coverage.”
New York State’s Housing Recovery Program will fully compensate homeowners affected by Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy for the repair costs of damage to their homes due to ‘earth movement.’
The state says it has been reaching out to homeowners to ensure that those interested can apply for assistance. In addition, the Office of Storm Recovery will provide technical assistance to the communities under the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, which includes the Five Towns, to evaluate and determine if local resiliency measures could assist with limiting the impact of earth movements.
Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santino said he has worked with Assemblyman Brian Curran and other politicians and families affected by the exclusion for several months to overturn the earth movement clause.
“The clause was originally created to exclude certain claims following earthquakes, but since Sandy, it is being unfairly applied to damage ... caused when Sandy's flood surge swept away soil beneath homes, causing their foundations to shift and crack,” Santino said. “We've succeeded in bringing this terrible injustice to the attention of Gov. Cuomo, who decided this weekend that NYS will commit funds to right this terrible injustice perpetrated against hardworking people who have suffered far too long."
Danielle Schochet, who was also hit with a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease months after Sandy, said that she “greatly appreciates all the work that has been done on our behalf.”
But, she added, “I am still hesitant to believe anything until our check is in our hands.”