A.G. Schneiderman: Two Years After Sandy, We Must Remain Committed To Making New York Stronger Than Ever

NEW YORK – Two years ago, on October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the Eastern seaboard with unprecedented strength and impact. Over 150 Americans lost their lives, including 53 in New York State, and millions were displaced.  The region suffered massive property damage – estimated at approximately $65 billion – to homes, buildings and infrastructure. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today issued the following statement on this solemn anniversary:

“Two years ago today, Sandy slammed into our shores, wreaking havoc on our infrastructure and our communities. In the wake of this tragedy, people throughout the state, across the country and around the world came together to help however they could. Some helped neighbors to clean up, while others volunteered or donated to a charitable organization. Together, New Yorkers once again demonstrated tremendous resilience and our commitment build our state back even stronger than before.

“While federal, state and municipal programs have been the backbone of recovery efforts, the nonprofit sector played a critical role in the immediate aftermath of the storm and continues to be an important part of the long-term recovery. In light of the central role of charities in disaster relief and recovery, and the significant sums raised by charities from the public for Sandy relief, my office has been monitoring Hurricane Sandy charitable fundraising and spending to ensure that money raised for Sandy relief is used for Sandy relief.  We have also cracked down on price gougers, delivered back wages for recovery workers who were denied fair wages, funded housing counseling and legal services for homeowners who were at risk of foreclosure due to financial losses caused by Sandy, and intervened to ensure that Con Ed takes into account the risks of climate change in its planning for future storms. Our region has made significant progress, but too many of our neighbors are still struggling to get back on their feet. I will continue to use every tool at my disposal to fight for justice for every New Yorker.”

In the past two years, Attorney General Schneiderman has made several significant efforts to help New Yorkers overcome the challenges posed by Sandy. Among his achievements:

  • Tracking more than $657 million in charitable giving after Sandy and issuing a second anniversary report on how those funds have been used;
  • Intervening in a Public Service Commission proceeding on a proposed rate hike for Consolidated Edison and successfully advocating that the utility company be required to take into account the risks posed by climate change in its storm-hardening plans;
  • Proposing legislation to require all electric and gas utilities in the state to ensure that the critical services they provide to millions of New Yorkers are properly protected from the impacts of climate change;
  • Providing funding to counsel 1,500 homeowners on a range of Sandy-related home retention issues, including mortgage modifications and insurance problems;
  • Obtaining more than $300,000 worth of penalties and costs from almost 50 gas stations that engaged in illegal price gouging after the storm;
  • Securing more than $5.3 million for workers who were underpaid on Sandy recovery projects, including clean-up and utility repairs
  • Cracking down on scammers who preyed on Long Island homeowners with fake notices that appeared to be from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation in order to trick victims in to paying for unnecessary services;
  • Intervening to prevent New Yorkers from being denied vital communications services in the post-Sandy rebuilding process.

Today, Attorney General Schneiderman issued a second anniversary report on the charitable response to Sandy. The report finds that charities raised more than $657 million for Sandy relief, and spent more than $601 million, or 91% of that amount, for Sandy relief. By comparison, in July 2013, the Attorney General’s office issued an interim report finding that six months after the storm, only 58% of the funds raised by responding organizations had been spent on Sandy relief.