New York State will set aside $300 million for a new Superstorm Sandy recovery initiative to fund the elevation of more than 6,500 houses, most of them on Long Island, to prevent future flood damage, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in Freeport on Wednesday.
The optional state funding will be available through the State’s NY Rising Housing Recovery Program for 4,931 homes in Nassau County and 1,269 in Suffolk County. The eligible homes are deemed to be in the 100-year flood plain or are certified as a “repeated loss” by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, Tropical Storm Irene and Tropical Storm Lee are eligible.
“Don’t assume that Sandy isn’t going to revisit, even if it’s by a different name,” warned Cuomo, who is running for re-election. “I would assume the opposite. It is going to happen again, and our challenge is to be better prepared.”
The plan is similar to the $700 million federal Fire Island to Montauk Point project, which will pay for south shore home elevations in Suffolk County in addition to other storm-hardening projects. That long-awaited project is also backed by Sandy aid.
“While Sandy was the worst storm that’s ever hit in the memory of Freeport, it’s not going to be the last one,” said Freeport Mayor Robert T. Kennedy. “Simply repairing our homes to their previous state can no longer suffice.”
Officials said the state has already paid out $350 million to 8,000 homeowners impacted by recent storms—1,400 of which are being required to elevate their homes. About 360 homeowners have decided to undergo full-reconstruction, which includes elevation. The remainder will receive $87 million to complete mandatory elevation, according to the state.
Homes eligible for the latest round of funding also includes those that haven’t been substantially damaged but are within the 100-year flood plain.
Cuomo made the announcement in front of a construction site at the home of Daniel Ehrick, a Freeport resident who is elevating his home.
“One thing was clear: I was not going to just patch up the damage and allow Mother Nature to turn my life upside down again just in a few years or maybe sooner, maybe later,” Ehrick said. “Instead, I wanted to make my house, my home stronger with the next storm in mind.”
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said that the town has also waived building permit fees for repairs and rebuilds of Sandy-damaged homes.
“These steps can save homeowners thousands of dollars and almost more importantly valuable time in the recovery process,” Murray said. “For two years I’ve seen the resolve of people who have decided to stay in the communities in which they have lived and loved. They’re rebuilding their homes and their lives.”
This is the second time in as many weeks that the state has announced new funding related to Sandy. Last week, the state promised $175 million for localities to pay for post-Sandy storm repairs, $145 million of which will go to Nassau and Suffolk counties.
To find out whether their homes are eligible, Long Island residents can call 1-855-NYS-SANDY (1-855-697-7263).
-With Rashed Mian