By Phyllis J. Lubin

“The roofers are coming! The roofers are coming!” Yussie has been exclaiming lately.

Somehow Yosef learned the phrase “The British are coming” from an educational television cartoon, according to my older children. Paul Revere was thought to have proclaimed the phrase as he rode through the streets of Massachusetts, warning of the arrival of the British during the American Revolution. Yussie has adapted the phrase to fit our present scenario.

Upon further research, I discovered some additional information: Riding through present-day Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, Revere warned patriots along his route, many of whom set out on horseback to deliver warnings of their own. By the end of the night, there were probably as many as 40 riders throughout Middlesex County carrying the news of the army’s advance. Revere did not shout the phrase later attributed to him, “The British are coming!” Rather, his mission depended on secrecy, the countryside was filled with British army patrols, and most of the Massachusetts colonists (who were predominantly English in ethnic origin) still considered themselves British. Revere’s warning, according to eyewitness accounts of the ride and Revere’s own descriptions, was “The Regulars are coming out.”

“How are you doing post-Sandy?” seems to be my common question to clients these days. Following the damage done by this “superstorm” (we cannot call it a hurricane for insurance purposes), somehow everything becomes a question of how your property fared in its aftermath. A good portion of work done by my office has to do with lowering the assessment on homes in Nassau County (hence lowering the amount of property taxes a homeowner would be liable for). Assessments depend on a home’s value, and we are all in a conundrum as to Sandy’s effect on our property values.

We thought we had come away from Sandy relatively unscathed. Aside from a couple of trees that fell (thankfully not on our house), we seemed to be all right. Our power came back earlier than our neighbors’. Some roof shingles had blown off, but we thought the damage was minor. After we had a couple of roofers come to look at the roof following Sandy’s soaring “hurricane-like” winds, we realized that the damage done could not easily be fixed.

I am a procrastinator as well as a bargainer–not always a good combination. Sometimes it works in my favor, but only when the procrastinating that goes along with the lengthy process of getting a good price does not cause further problems! My thought was, we had a couple of layers of roofing on a good portion of the roof. We have a combination of roofs since almost ten years ago we extended the house and left the original couple of layers of roofing on the original house, and connected it somehow to the new construction which had only one layer of new roofing. If we lost a few shingles now, I thought we should be okay. Through the bargaining process, I found I was wrong! This experience has given new meaning to the phrase “Be thankful that you have a roof over your head.”

Recently my daughter Rochel woke up in the upper bunk in her room to dripping water and peeled plaster. My husband climbed up the pull-down steps to the attic (no simple feat). He trekked up to determine the source of the damaged ceiling. After bumping his head a few times (Lenny is about 6’1”, while portions of the attic are barely 4 feet high–specifically the spot over Rochel’s room), he determined that the leak was from the roof. Not only was it leaking, but wood from the roof seemed to no longer be where it should be! On a return trip to the attic, he plugged up the obvious problem area with some plastic tablecloths, and we held our breath as we heard about any predicted rain.

This was no longer a time to procrastinate! But now we had to replace almost our entire roof. This past summer we noticed a leak in the front of the house. We were told by a few roofers that only the front of the roof had damage, and that the rear of the roof was fine. During the summer, the front smaller half of our roof was replaced, along with some rotted wood.

None of the roofers ever went up to the attic to ascertain the full extent of any prior damage–after all, rotting wood cannot be seen by the naked eye below layers of roofing. Had anyone reviewed the wood underneath the roofing from the viewpoint of the attic, perhaps much of the eventual damage might have been avoided! But no one anticipated Superstorm Sandy, and the other catchphrase we all know, “Don’t go looking for problems,” comes to mind.

Once we had decided to call back the team that had done such a great job on the front of the roof (thanks for your patience, Parsons Roofing), I wanted the work done now. We are not the only roof being replaced in Nassau County these days, and we had to wait to be fit in. Fortunately, the company found a spot to fit us in this past week before any terrible snow or rainstorms.

And now, as I sit in front of the computer screen musing this early Monday morning at 4:42 a.m., I am happy to report that I can leave on a JetBlue flight to Orlando in a few hours with four of our children (yeshiva break vacation) without worrying about leaving my husband with literally no roof over his head! v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children: Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea and now a new daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at


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