By Karen Frantz
Residents hit by Hurricane Sandy gathered at PS 146 in Howard Beach Monday to ask local attorneys about tax and legal considerations following the superstorm that left many with damaged or destroyed documents and struggling to navigate their insurance plans.
Mary Hansen had her three young daughters in tow at the school, at 98-01 159th Ave. She lives in Hamilton Beach and said she lost a number of documents when her house was flooded, some of them personal and some for her two businesses, Hansen Roofing and Construction and Hansen Hardware and Supply.
She said she went to the forum to figure out what documents she needed to have replaced.
“To what degree can I be held responsible for these documents that no longer exist?” she asked.
Hansen said she was fortunate not to lose her Social Security card, her marriage certificate and the title to her house, which she kept in a safe that she brought with her when she fled her house during the storm. But she said she lost tax returns, bank statements and the closing documents on her home.
She said until recently she was not even able to get to some of her documents because her cabinet had been impossible to open because of the water-swollen paper inside.
“The thoughts in your head: What if?” she said. “What if I need those closing documents?”
The forum, which included one session in the afternoon and one in the evening, was organized by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) and had lawyers from Brady & Marshak on hand to answer residents’ questions.
Brady & Marshak deals primarily with estate planning and elder law and has offices at 156-36 Cross Bay Blvd. in Howard Beach, as well as in Nassau County.
Linda Faith Marshak, a lawyer with Brady & Marshak, said Addabbo had approached the firm with the idea, and Monday was the first time the seminars were held, although the firm may hold additional sessions in the future.
She said clients who live in the hurricane-affected areas had been calling frequently after the storm with questions about what to do about lost documents.
“They were concerned about that,” she said.
The firm was handing out a packet with information about how to navigate legal issues after the storm. It advised residents on such issues as what types of documents need to be original and how to replace them, and how to navigate insurance claims, mortgage reprieve and tenants’ rights.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.