A steady stream of residents came to Huntington Town Hall last week for a special event to help homeowners and businesses impacted by superstorm Sandy learn how to speed up the permit process and get advice and guidance on rebuilding.
Special guest John Houghtaling -- a New Orleans-based lawyer, expert on the management of insurance claims, and one of the nation's leading experts on disaster recovery -- said it's important to be fully prepared when submitting a claim to an insurance company.
"People need to realize that the claims department they are calling into in the aftermath of a storm like Sandy are third parties brought in to adjust the claims," Houghtaling said. "And these people are not your good neighbor and they are not the good hands people."
He said homeowners or business owners should get independent inspections of their homes or properties and look at their insurance policies independently, not take the word of a company representative on what the policy covers.
The town-sponsored Hurricane Sandy Recovery Night also featured representatives from the building industry, chambers of commerce and banks.
Rosetta Wilson, a Huntington Station resident, said she came to find out information about being compensated for damage caused by a downed tree to her home and fence.
"I now feel hopeful," she said. "I realize I have to keep calling my insurance company and be more forceful. I might not have known that if I hadn't come tonight."
Joanne and Greg Dillon, of South Huntington, said they were energized by the advice Houghtaling gave about deadlines, staying on top of insurance companies and things to look for so you don't settle for less than you deserve on claims.
"We're going to use the information we got and go back to the insurance company," Joanne Dillon said. "Now we know what to ask and what to say."
While no similar events are planned, residents with concerns can call Town Hall at 631-351-3021 and ask for the appropriate department.
Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said the evening was a success.
"People had multiple concerns between insurance questions, concern with the type of construction they have to do, what type of builder they should have and what should I ask them, also questions about funding," Petrone said. "So this night really helped."