NEW YORK — If the water that destroys much of your house comes up from below the structure, would you describe that as a flood? Grantley Hunt was mulling this question when his insurer balked at covering the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy over a year ago to his two-family house, which has an almost unobstructed view of Jamaica Bay in Queens.
The house is almost dead even with the bay. But Hunt was ready – he thought he was ready – when the water from the bay surged onto the streets of the Rockaways one year ago: He had encircled the house with sandbags.
“There was no way that water was coming into my house,” he recalled thinking. “So, when my son told me there was water in the basement, I said, ‘No, that’s not possible.’”
But the water was rising in the basement. “Oh Sandy, she fooled us,” Hunt said, his tone of voice changing as he started to talk about the hurricane as if she were an unannounced visitor. “She came from under the house!”
If the water that destroys much of your house comes up from below the structure, would you describe that as a flood?
To Hunt, it didn’t matter how the water had gotten into the house — only that it did. But to his insurer, water that comes from underneath a house is technically not a flood, Hunt said, and his insurance company told him so when it refused to cover some of the damages. Up to now, Hunt has paid for all of the repairs himself – about $22,000 to rip out the dry wall that was soaked, replace appliances and electrical fixtures, flooring.
Like thousands of others whose lives were upended by the storm on Oct. 29, 2012, Hunt and his family may have escaped the storm surge, but a year later, the floodwaters’ toll on housing in New York City persists. Continue reading