Frequently Asked Questions – Hurricane Sandy

November 1, 2012
For a medical emergency, please call 911. Q. A resident is running out of food and water; what can he or she do?
A. For food and water, please call 311 or 211, or seek a member of the Police or Fire Department, or a member of the National Guard, or go to a shelter for supplies. Q. When will power be restored?
A. ConEd and LIPA are still assessing damages, so power could be out in some areas for a number of days, but we do not yet know how long. Q. When will the subways operate again?
A. There has been flooding of some tunnels that will need to be pumped out and repaired. No one knows when full subway service will be restored. Partial bus service was restored yesterday (10/30) and partial LIRR service should be restored today (10/31). Q. When will phone service or cell service be restored?
A. There has been flooding of phone service centers and damage is being assessed. Crews are working around the clock to get phone and cell service operational. Q. Will Election Day be cancelled?
A. No, the State is working with NYC and local Boards of Election to make sure people can vote on Election Day, including having alternative polling sites. Q. When will FEMA be here?
A. FEMA will be on the ground starting October 31, 2012. Q. My car or apartment or home or property has been destroyed.
A. Residents should contact their homeowners, renters, or auto insurance companies to begin filing a claim on any damages to their property. Residents should do this as soon as possible. For FEMA Individual Assistance Grants, please call 800-621-3362 or register online at The toll-free telephone numbers are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) Monday through Sunday until further notice. Applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves (name, permanent address, phone number, Social Security number), insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate losses. Q. What do Individual Assistance Grants cover?
A. Disaster assistance is financial or direct assistance to individuals and families whose property has been damaged or destroyed as a result of a federally-declared disaster, and whose losses are not covered by insurance. It is meant to help with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways. This assistance is not intended to restore damaged property to its condition before the disaster. Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families can include:
  • Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.

  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.

  • Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.

  • Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.

  • Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.

  • Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster's adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million.

  • Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.

  • Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits and social security matters.

NYC is eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance Grants. President Obama declared a federal disaster area, freeing up federal funds in the counties of Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Nassau, New York, Richmond (Staten Island), Suffolk and Queens. Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 47 October 26, 2012, declaring the entire state a disaster area. The NYC Office of Emergency Management is the lead agency for disaster response and is coordinating state and federal recovery efforts in New York City. Contacts for residents:
  • NYC’s 311 or 211 service

  • Hurricane Sandy Helpline for NYS Residents 1-888-769-7243 / 1-518-485-1159

  • Outside of New York City, residents can call 211

Sign up for information:
  • Visit NY-ALERT online at:

  • From FEMA website: Many states along the Mid-Atlantic and the East Coast have shelters open in response to Hurricane Sandy. Search for an open shelter by texting SHELTER + a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). Here’s an example text message you can send: Shelter 01234 (standard rates apply)

  • Latest breaking news via New York City’s Office of Emergency Management

  • NYC OEM provides a summary for access to shelter locations, power outage information, mass transit information and disaster assistance.

  • Report Damage from Sandy to Home or Business As featured on the City’s Severe Weather page, in order to qualify for disaster relief assistance, the City must estimate the storm's total effect on city residents and employees. This website form asks you to answer questions about the extent of damage to your property.

  • Interactive Map Feature
    Directs residents to nearby Red Cross shelters and City Evacuation centers based upon zip code information provided as well as power outage information

  • Disaster Recovery Centers
    This page allows the user to search for nearby disaster recovery centers and provides information for individuals and affected businesses to begin applying for assistance as soon as Wednesday, October 31, 2012 by registering online at, by web enabled mobile device at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT seven days a week until further notice.

  • Red Cross National Toll Free Number: 1-800-RED CROSS