Jeanne Andersen and her husband Brad arrived at Lowe’s in East Patchogue, N.Y., recently to buy a mailbox when they spotted FEMA Hazard Mitigation Community Education Outreach Specialists Richard Bass and Joel Martinez-Gonzalez.
The Andersens approached the table set up near the store’s front entrance and told the specialists that their son’s Lindenhurst, N.Y., home had been uninhabitable since it was damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Seven months after the storm, Jeanne Andersen explained, her son and his wife remained unsure about their options, whether to repair, rebuild or relocate. The couple, along with their cat and dog, has been living with the Andersens since the day before the storm.
Bass and Martinez-Gonzalez chatted with the Andersens about their son’s dilemma before giving them information about elevating homes and a pamphlet about the National Flood Insurance Program.
“It’s nice to see FEMA’s still offering guidance,” Jeanne Andersen said, adding that she planned to share the information with her son and possibly consider it for her own home. “I think FEMA has done well.”
The next day, the Andersens said later, their son visited the Lowe’s and got additional information on his options.
The Andersens were among nearly 6,400 people who received free advice on rebuilding safer and stronger from mitigation advisors who temporarily set up information tables in 18 home improvement stores in April and May. The stores included Home Depot and Lowe’s locations in Westchester, Rockland, Richmond, Suffolk, Kings, Nassau and Queens counties.
The advisors provided information to homeowners, renters and business owners on building or rebuilding with the goal of reducing the loss of life, property and damage caused by winds, floods and fires in future disasters.
The specialists discussed a range of steps residents could take, from elevating electrical services and appliances and installing sewer back-flow valves to removing and replacing drywall and insulation. Other advice included channeling water away from foundations and making repairs with water-resistant materials.
For information about New York State recovery, visit www.NYSandyHelp.ny.gov or call: 855-NYS-SANDY. The line is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.