Super Storm Sandy Claim

Superstorm Sandy. Image Credit: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Homeowner claimed benefits under disaster recovery program implemented after Super Storm Sandy. In November 2013, Brooklyn attorney Christopher McCollum applied for benefits under the Build It Back program established by the City following Super Storm Sandy. McCollum claimed that his home sustained damage to its windows, backyard, roof, chimney, and façade during Super Storm Sandy.

A Build It Back inspector visited McCollum’s home to assess the damage and reported that the home suffered no apparent storm-related damages from Super Storm Sandy, and the City denied McCollum’s claim for benefits based on the inspector’s report. McCollum filed a Request for Review challenging the decision and submitted a report by a private home inspector engineer that repairs to McCollum’s home would cost nearly $75,000 for the Super Storm Sandy-related damage. The report, however, did not contain a signature, certification, or professional seal, and the engineer did not offer an explanation as to why the damage was related to Hurricane Sandy. The City again denied McCollum’s eligibility. McCollum filed an article 78 petition challenging the decision in the Kings County Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Katherine Levine upheld the City’s denial and dismissed McCollum’s petition.  Under the Build It Back program rules, damage may be established in one of the following three ways: 1) the applicant’s structure was tagged by a Department of Buildings placard as having suffered Super Storm Sandy damage; 2) proof that the applicant received payment for structural loss from FEMA, NFIP, or private insurance; or 3) a damage assessor from Build it Back confirming that the structure was damage by Super Storm Sandy based on visual observation. Because McCollum’s home was not tagged by a placard by the Department of Buildings, and he did not apply or receive payment from FEMA, NFIP, or private insurance, McCollum’s only recourse was the damage assessor from Build it Back. However, the inspector’s report concluded that there were no apparent Super Storm Sandy-related damage. Accordingly, McCollum did not qualify for benefits under the Build it Back Program.


(CIT) McCollum v City of New York 79 N.Y.S.3d 888 (Sup. 2018)


By: Mary Stewart (Mary is a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019.)



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.