Back in August, I read two articles in The City newsletter titled “NYC Denies Every Financial Claim for Hurricane Ida Flooding,” and “Ida Flood Homeowners Denied City Payouts Get Legal Options and Political Promises.”
You can find these articles at:
Why New York City doesn’t owe affected residents anything
Over 4,703 NYC homeowners who suffered losses caused by Rainstorm Ida in September 2021 recently received denial of claim letters from the New York City Comptroller’s office.
The letter to the affected homeowners cited a 1907 New York City precedent established in Holzhausen v. City of New York where the City of New York was found to be not liable for damages suffered by the plaintiff, because
“In deciding adversely to the claim of the plaintiffs for damages, it was held that `the duty of draining the streets and avenues of a city, or village, is one requiring the exercise of deliberation, judgment, and discretion. It cannot, in the nature of things, be so executed that in every single moment every square foot of the surface shall be perfectly protected against the consequences of water falling from the clouds upon it. The duty is * * * of a judicial nature, for it requires the qualities of deliberation and judgment. It admits of a choice of means and of the determination of the order of time in which improvements shall be made.'”
Holzhausen v. City of New York, 116 App. Div. 812, 814 (N.Y. App. Div. 1907)
This basically means, that the City of New York, or any municipality for that matter, can’t be responsible for protecting its citizenry against the vagaries of Mother Nature.
This isn’t the first time this happened
While I grieve with those affected by Rainstorm Ida, every NYC homeowner has two resources to mitigate losses caused by external floods and internal water and sewer line backups, and sump pump failures.
They are called Flood Insurance, a separate policy purchase, and Water and Sewer Backup, which is an endorsement to many homeowner policies.
What else can we do to prepare for flood and water damage?
When storing personal items in basements or ground-level first floors, use water plastic containers, placed at least one and one-half to two feet above floor level.
Do not rent illegal basement apartments. Number one, it’s against the law. Number two, when basements suddenly flood, as happened during rainstorm Ida, people drown in these basements because they lack proper sufficient and legal means of egress.
It never fails to amaze me how quickly we tend to revert to the “Save Me” syndrome when something out of the ordinary happens. And how quickly we fight and rail against government sanctions.
We don’t want to wear masks to fight the possibility of contracting Covid-19.
Many demand the right to not be vaccinated or get booster shots but want the doctors and hospitals to save our lives when we do.
Drivers and their passengers don’t wear their seatbelts and die or suffer severe injuries in car accidents, further burdening the hospitals and our families.
Otherwise sensible people decide to operate motor vehicles after drinking or medicinal smoking. And then bitch about the police stopping them, and administering a breathalyzer test which leads to their spending time in jail and losing their drivers license.
We walk our dogs off the leash and get upset when we’re sued when they bite someone.
We blast our music at ridiculous levels at all hours of the night. Then we get ticked off when the police come to your door in response to noise complaints.
We don’t attend Community Education Council meetings, attend PTA meetings, join our child’s school School Leadership Team, or even attend “Meet the teacher night.” And then we wonder why Little Johnny or Jane can’t read at grade level by second grade.
Our local politicians and/or the Department of Environmental Protection aren’t taken to task to demand regular cleanouts of every sewer trap in our communities.
Leaves we don’t rake up and dispose of clog those same sewer traps.
Since most people never consider their own mortality or morbidity, they don’t purchase life and disability insurance to replace income lost when death or disability strikes. But we want everyone to contribute to a Go Fund Me campaign to help bury us and help our family keep the house.
So, the next time you want to vote for a politician who says there is no such thing as climate change, or who says “Big Government wants to burden you with unnecessary laws and ruin your life with increased wasteful taxes, take a minute to ask what will happen if the government doesn’t act on your behalf.
At the very least
And, at the very least, take ownership of the need to protect your home and belongings. Purchase a Flood Insurance policy and endorse your homeowner’s insurance policy with Water and Sewer, and Sump Pump failure coverage.
Municipal responsibilities for your losses may never change, but how you react and prepare for the effects of climate change will determine just how well you ride out the coming storms.
And they’re not just coming.
They are already here.