Post-Irene Rebuilding Could Take Several More Months, N.Y. Group Says

December 9, 2011

This year’s hurricane season was an unusually costly and damaging one for New York State residents. And as the winter sets in, it will take several more months for people in areas ranging from Adirondack Mountains to Binghamton to get back to normal, according to a New York agency association.

“There were certain communities, particularly in upstate New York, that were really hard hit by Tropical Storm Irene. There is a small town near Albany called Schoharie that suffered a lot of damage,” said Tim Dodge, director of research and media relations at Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York.

“The tropical storm also hit the southern part of the state very hard, particularly the area around Binghamton. And that area has been slow to recover as well.”

Winter Snow Will Slow Down Recovery Process

The clean up has been going on all through the fall. And it’s now December, he said. “It’s sort of unusual that we didn’t get a significant snow fall yet this year. It’s gonna happen pretty soon. And it’s gonna slow down the cleanup process.”

So it will be a few more months before everything is cleaned up. But the rebuilding process is going to take longer than that, with a lot depending on whether people had adequate insurance. “If they didn’t have insurance, they may have to get aid from the government. And that could take a while. It will be several more months before these communities are back to something close to normal.”

Importance of Flood Insurance

It’s unfortunate when something like this happens and people don’t have enough insurance, the agency group’s research director noted. “If nothing else good comes out of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, I hope it will reemphasize to people how important flood insurance can be, and they will at least give some thought to buying flood insurance in the future.”

With New York, it’s not that often that a hurricane makes an impact this directly.

This was definitely an unusual hurricane season for New York State, he said. “Southern states, the Gulf Coast, Florida, the Carolinas — they are used to hurricanes to the extent that you can get used to it. They expect it.”

“Sometimes we get some spillover rain if a hurricane is hitting the Carolinas. But Tropical storms Irene and Lee definitely impacted New York State more directly than we typically see in a hurricane season. So clearly the number of hurricane-related claims were higher than normal this year.”

People in the Albany area or Adirondacks mountains never anticipated they were going to get flooded like this, Dodge said. “Folks upstate were caught off guard. They probably did not have the insurance coverage they needed.”

Many of these hard-hit communities are making progress. But it’s going to take a while longer before they are back to normal. There have been some complaints about how long it’s taking insurance companies to respond, he added.

“I don’t know if they are just overwhelmed by the sheer number of claims, or the sheer number of flood claims,” he said. “I got a call from a member agency this week. He had a customer who is filing a complaint with the insurance department because it’s been three months now and his insurance companies have been taking so long to resolve a claim.”

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