I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I have been a CA licensed attorney for more than 3 decades.
First of all, the fact that the attorney sent a cease and desist letter is not binding on you. It is more of a request.
However, as you have initiated a claim for damages (yes, even if the HOA reps haven't seen the damage yet), that is likely the reason that the HOA attorney is involved. The HOA is a possible defendant in any action you might have to file to get your property repaired, and the attorney wants full control over the damage claim.
Given the way that you are being manhandled by the HOA and their lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you first file a claim for damages with your own insurance company to see if it is something that your homeowner's policy will cover, and if it is not, that you retain your own attorney to deal with the HOA and their attorney. You are playing nice and they are playing hard ball. You need to escalate your level of aggressiveness or expect for them to continue to abuse you and your rights.
And yes, you do have the right to communicate with your property manager, but the manager is not in charge of handling your claim and that is why they want nothing to do with it and have pushed the HOA attorney on you.
I understand that you may be disappointed by the Answer you received, as it was not particularly favorable to your situation. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful legal outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.
If you have additional questions, you may of course reply back to me and I will be happy to continue to assist you further until your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.
Would you please take a moment to positively rate my service to you based on the understanding of the law I provided by clicking on the rating stars---preferably 5-Stars. It is that easy. That is the way I am compensated for having helped you.
Thank you in advance. I wish you the best in your future,