New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. is probing ways to compensate many New Yorkers affected by last year's massive storm-triggered floods in April, July and August, and has offered to extend the deadlines for claimants to sue with the expectation of resolving the claims before litigation becomes necessary.
"We are working to find a solution that is equitable to homeowners and residents," Thompson said. "I personally saw the damage that many homeowners suffered and I fully believe that by extending these deadlines, we will be able to resolve these cases in a manner that is fair to both the claimants and to the City without the need for costly litigation."
Numerous properties were flooded last year during three major storms on April 15, July 17 and 18, and August 8. After the April 15 incident, which affected properties on Staten Island, 64 claims were filed requesting approximately $1.3 million.
After the July incident, 348 claims (including 328 from Queens) requesting approximately $10.8 million were submitted to the Comptroller's Office. After the August 8 incident, the Comptroller's Office received 888 claims (including 810 from Queens) requesting more than $16.4 million.
Thompson noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency determined that the flooding that occurred in April and August qualified as "major disasters" eligible for federal disaster assistance.
The Comptroller's Office could not process the claims until the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ‒ the agency that oversees the City's water and sewage systems – submitted its analyses and findings to the Comptroller. However, DEP determined that the City was not responsible for the flooding damage.
"I subsequently met with DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd and notified her that we must look to the future, so that the City's infrastructure is equipped to handle substantial storms, and New Yorkers know that the City is accountable and responsive," Thompson said.
Since the incidents, Thompson has dispatched staffers to a number of neighborhoods to attend community meetings, speak with residents, and answer questions. The Comptroller personally visited homeowners in Queens, and saw firsthand the impact of the storms and spoke with homeowners about their experiences.
Tort claims against the City of New York, which are filed through the Comptroller's Office Bureau of Law & Adjustment, must be filed within 90 days from the date of the occurrence. A legal action must ordinarily be filed against the city within one year and 90 days from the date of occurrence.
Thompson has notified those who filed claims for the three incidents that his office is continuing to investigate the matter, and has offered them a six-month extension to sue, which he is authorized to do under the City's Administrative Code.