By Anessa V. Cohen

My first thought in preparing this article was where to start. Although the subject of Sandy and flooding is all that is being written about ad nauseam, it is just not time yet to stop talking about the storm and the flooding. Learning how to deal with insurance companies and deciding what to tackle first in repairs is still relevant. Pile after pile of flood-damaged garbage is heaped on the streets as high as you can see. Families are still waiting for new boilers or hot-water tanks to be installed. Some are still unable to come back to live in their homes either until reconstruction has been completed or until they receive the funds from the various insurance companies as well as FEMA needed to effect those repairs.

There is not a place you can visit nor a line you can stand on where the main subject of discussion–even among strangers–isn’t Sandy. “What kind of damage did you have?” “Do you have heat and hot water yet?” “Have you got anything out of FEMA yet?” “Are you living at home or bunking out somewhere?”

I had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new picture for my driver’s license. By the time I got to the front of that very long line, I had new suggestions for how to deal with mold that wasn’t that obvious, making a claim for items in my garage (which was flooded) that never occurred to me, like the numbers of hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, etc., that got caught in the flood, how to clean and sterilize certain plastic items that I thought I could only throw away, and which contents qualify and which don’t when dealing with my basement and flood-insurance claims. It was amazing what a treasure trove of information existed on that line. For the hour I was there, everybody was trading information like kids trade baseball cards.

You learn a lot from listening to everybody about how other people are dealing with their situation. A lot of it is good information, and yet a lot of it is opinion as well, and so you need to also do your own due diligence on what is real and what is just the opinion of the guy who told it to you.

One of the main concerns that I’ve started to have is the situation with people changing their boilers and hot-water tanks. Although the majority are getting good advice from qualified technicians in dealing with their individual situations and replacing their machines correctly, some people might have had less than healthy or proper setups with their boiler rooms prior to the flooding.

I wanted to take this opportunity to caution those who do not have a standard boiler room either in the basement or in the garage with proper fire-retardant walls, ceilings, and doors: Take the time now, while you are already having new boiler and hot-water tank installations being done, to take advantage of the professionals doing the work and ask them to look at the areas where the equipment is being installed and check to make sure if it is safe and fire-resistant per government codes.

Also please make sure to have them check your flues and any other connections to the chimney, including the chimney itself, to make sure everything is connected properly and that the chimney is clear and does not need any repairs from the storm. These important connections remove carbon dioxide created by a gas boiler in use and noxious gases created by oil burners as well. If they are in disrepair, they can cause unsafe conditions in your home for you and your family as well as create a fire hazard and should be corrected immediately. Already having these professionals in the house to install your new equipment gives you a fast and easy opportunity to check and make sure that your house is safe.

Just a side note to all this–Branch Boulevard is once again open and repaired. If they can repair those two lanes so quickly, there is lots more we need to get them working on! v

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to

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