How bad could it be?
That’s the question I asked myself as the torrential rain poured down in late October, when Tropical Storm Sandy arrived to pay a visit.
By early evening, I realized just how naïve my question had been. I watched in horror as the streets in my town of Bellmore, on the south shore of Long Island, filled up with water. I thought I was prepared, but it hit so quickly and ferociously that it left me completely blindsided. My sump pumps were working nonstop, but they were no match for the rush of water that soon began pouring into my cellar.
As I watched one stair after another disappear into the dark, murky water, I abandoned the idea of retrieving some belongings from the basement. With my three dogs in tow, I took refuge on the second floor of my home. Thankfully, the water stopped just short of an inch from the first floor. Powerless, both literally and figuratively, I sat on my bed in the dark with my four-legged family and waited it out. Outside, I saw boats and cars floating down the street in about 4 feet of water. Every home looked like an island.
Then, as swiftly as the storm came, it stopped. The water began to recede by midnight. I thought the nightmare was over, but it was only the beginning.
The second day after the flood, I called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A couple days later, FEMA representatives came, took a report and promised to help. Meanwhile, I discovered an 8-foot long, 5-ft deep and 4-ft wide sinkhole had formed under the south wall of my deck. I also uncovered cracks in the foundation walls in my basement.
To my great shock, my homeowner’s insurance company told me they wouldn’t cover the damage because a flood caused it. My flood insurance company, however, denied my claim because they insisted that the damage my home sustained was caused by the movement of the earth. My flood insurance company also refused my repeated requests for an engineer to come out and assess the damage.
Nearly four months later, they finally relented and sent an engineer to my home. Four months after that, I received the results from the report. Apparently, despite the huge cracks in my basement walls, the engineer decided my home had “no structural damage.”
Shortly after trying to contest the report, the foundation along the south wall cracked horizontally and the house shifted. I reported this to my flood insurance company only to be told that it was “just the house settling.” Frustrated and distraught, I wrote letters to countless politicians and applied for various kinds of assistance, all to no avail. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to get any help and would have to postpone my retirement in order to repair my home. After taking out a loan from my home equity, I had the damaged foundation removed and repaired, the sump pumps replaced and the entire basement waterproofed.
My nightmare finally ended last year. I met someone who referred me to Mostyn Law, suggesting that the firm could help me file a lawsuit against my insurance companies. After being given the runaround for so long, I was reluctant and skeptical. Still, figuring it couldn’t hurt, I decided to call.
It turned out to be one the most important calls of my life.
I was connected to paralegal Elizabeth Skinner and it was the first time during my ordeal that someone was willing listen to me and showed a sincere interest in helping. Speaking with Elizabeth, I felt as if the weight of the entire experience had been lifted from my shoulders – that finally, someone was on my side. That feeling was priceless.
The kind of representation I’ve received since then has been unmatched. Throughout the process, everyone I’ve had contact with at Mostyn has been professional, attentive and knowledgeable. Mostyn Law fought for me when I had given up, and they are singlehandedly responsible for having the final repairs made to my home—without them, I fear to think where I’d be.