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After Irene, Homes Condemned In Rockland; Putnam Not Qualified For Disaster Aid

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Items destroyed by Irene - Suffern, NY - Sep 1, 2011 (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

Items destroyed by Irene – Suffern, NY – Sep 1, 2011 (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

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SUFFERN, NY (WCBS 880) - After Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc on New York City’s northern suburbs, getting back to normal continues to be a struggle.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams In Suffern

Flooding along the Mahwah River has been a chronic problem.

Four homes have been condemned in Suffern after it overflowed and eroded their foundations.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been told that they will never be able to return to the home,” said Suffern mayor Dagan LaCorte.

John Miller’s home was sound, but he took on eight feet of water in his basement.

“It missed the first floor by a step,” he said.

In the street, front-end loaders scooped up dank, dirty piles of furniture, toys, and appliances.

So, what now for the roughly 140 homes in the Squires Gate community?

“I think that there is a great many folks who’ve become resigned to the fact that there really is no solution to the river and that condemnation or being bought out by the government is a route which, for the first time, I think many residents are strongly considering,” LaCorte told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.

The mayor says they’ll have to have an honest and frank discussion with residents and federal officials perhaps next week.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell In Haverstraw

The Minisceongo Creek doesn’t look very threatening now but when it overflowed its banks Sunday, it flooded the Thiells Elementary School.

“I would say there was a good 2 to 3 inches of water throughout every space on the first floor,” said superintendent of schools Ileana Eckert, who says there has been a round the clock clean up effort.

“We’re now putting now sheet rock back, putting molding back – everything new,” she told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

She’s confident the building will be ready by the first day of school next Thursday.

“Just seeing the work that’s happened between Sunday and today, I’m very confident that we’ll open on time,” she said.

But the faculty hasn’t been able to prepare their classrooms.

“So, I know that those teachers are anxious in terms of having not had these two weeks to come in,” she said.

This is the first time the school has flooded since Hurricane Floyd back in 1999.

WCBS 880’s John Metaxas In Katonah

Amidst all the misery spawned by Hurricane Irene, the following may seem trifling, but if you’re five years old, it could be a big deal.

The Katonah school district has cancelled its practice run on the bus this week for entering kindergarten students.

Amy Brown remembers when her young son took that trip.

“I think it was an important part of his getting ready for kindergarten because he’d never been on a bus before. He’d only seen them. So, they kind of made it exciting and fun for him and not such a big deal and so scary,” she said.

Without that experience, there might be a few cases of separation anxiety next week when school is scheduled to start.

WCBS 880’s John Metaxas In Carmel

Putnam County Executive Paul Eldridge says the situation there is improving daily, but Putnam deserves to be added to the federal disaster declaration.

“We had a tremendous amount of damage to the western side of our county, which is our Philipstown, Putnam Valley area – Cold Spring, Garrison, and so forth. As a matter of fact, we had to have a mandatory evacuation on Hudson River Lane in Garrison right at the beginning of the storm,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind that we should qualify.”

Eldridge says there are bridges completely taken out by the storm and dirt roads washed away.

New York’s U.S. Senators – Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand – have also called for adding Putnam to be added to the declaration, in order to open much needed federal funds for disaster relief.

Eldridge says the storm damage there totals millions and millions of dollars.

He’s confident that the feds will eventually come to help his county.

If you were affected by Irene, how close are you to getting back on your feet? Let us know below.

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