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Denenberg Blasts State on Sandy Money

Legislator appears with homeless Seaford family.

Legis. David Denenberg with the families of Stephen Conklin and Charlie Spoto Photo Edward Robinson
Legis. David Denenberg with the families of Stephen Conklin and Charlie Spoto Photo Edward Robinson
Legis. David Denenberg, D-Merrick, blasted the state Wednesday or not releasing funds to victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Appearing in front of the heavily damaged Seaford home of a storm victim, Denenberg chided the New York Rising Community Reconstruction program for not yet providing relief.

The home belongs to retired New York City Firefighter Stephen Conklin, who suffered $250,00 worth of storm damage, but has only received a fraction of that cost in insurance money so far, according to Denenberg.

The legislator said that there are homes throughout the neighborhood with similar predicaments.

"You are going to see houses that have not been able to rebuild because the money has not been flowing to the extent of the loss," Denenberg said.

New York Rising was created to disperse a federal grant of funds to rebuild communities affected by the storm.

Seaford was given $7.8 million, Wantagh received $3.3 million, while Merrick was allocated $6.4 million in funds and Bellmore got $5.7 million.

"In the beginning, New York Rising told us nothing," Denenberg said. In July, they said, we'll come and inspect the homes and the money will be distributed in September."

After weeks of pushing a New York Rising inspector finally came to the home on Wednesday morning, the legislator said.
 
Denenberg is pushing for fund to be allocated by the first anniversary of the storm later this month.

Conklin said that he paid for federal flood insurance, but was not reimbursed for damage because of the policy's "earth movement clause" which precludes coverage caused directly by earth movement even if the earth movement is caused by flood. 

State officials recently announced that they would reimburse those denied coverage by the federal government by this exception, Denenberg said.

Conklin is disputing the denial of coverage under flood insurance and said the tidal surge rose six feet by his home.

He said his policy included a statement saying that he wouldn't be covered unless there was a condition of general flooding in the area.

"Is it me?" he asked incredulously. "Homes were under water all the way up to Merrick Road."

Charlie Spoto, a neighbor of Conklin is rebuilding his home, but has yet to be reimbursed.

"It's very tiring, very frustrating and the bureaucratic nonsense needs to stop," he said. 

Denenberg says is proposing a law that would require insurance companies to pay up in 30 days unless they have a good faith reason not to.

A spokesperson for the governor's office did not immediately return a request for comment.

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