Families in the Hurricane Sandy devastated areas of Breezy Point in Queens, NY have continued receiving utility bills for their homes which no longer exist.
The New York Post spoke with Irish American FDNY firefighter Kieran Burke who has accumulated over $1,000 worth of utility bills from LIPA and National Grid since Hurricane Sandy destroyed his home.
“It’s another knife in my back!” said Burke, who lived with his wife and two young sons in Breezy Point before Hurricane Sandy ravaged their home.
“It’s infuriating. LIPA burned my house down because of their negligence. Now they’re sending these bills out as if nothing ever happened,” said Burke, 40.
Since Hurricane Sandy destroyed his home, Burke and his family were forced to hop around hotel rooms before being able to rent a place to stay in Yonkers, NY. Burke said that despite moving around, LIPA still managed to find his family’s temporary mailing address in New Jersey.
About 120 Breezy Point homes burned down during Hurricane Sandy in October of last year after LIPA failed to turn off the power during the storm surge. 120 homeowners filed lawsuits against LIPA in January.
Burke told the New York Post that he eventually got his electric and gas turned off, but still continued to receive bills. As of April 7, he had amounted bills from LIPA for $772, and National Grid gas bills for $833.
Even more infuriating for the homeowners, the LIPA and National Grid bills were based on the “estimated” costs of meter readings, since the meters no longer existed.
“They’re not doing the actual readings because the meters don’t exist,” Burke said.
Burke phoned LIPA to discuss his problem, but was even more frustrated when he found that the operator hardly knew about Breezy Point and its Hurricane Sandy devastation.
“The operator had no idea that these homes had burned down and could not offer an explanation why these bills continued to come,” Burke said.
A supervisor later told Burke that he would not have to pay the bills; however, the Burke family a week later received another National Grid bill.
The Burke family may not be alone in their frustrations.
Keith Sullivan, a lawyer who represents many of the Breezy Point families suing LIPA, said he heard similar grievances from other Breezy Point residents.
Sullivan said, “At some point, you just have to laugh or you’ll drive yourself crazy. But it’s certainly pouring salt in their wounds.”
After speaking with Burke, the New York Post contacted LIPA about the situation.
“Everything should be cleared up as of today,” a LIPA spokeswoman said.
Burke says he’ll only believe it once the bills stop coming.