6 Months After Hurricane Irene, Tri-State Area Still Dealing With The Aftermath
CRANFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) –– Nearly six months after Hurricane Irene, some Tri-State Area residents are still picking up the pieces.
At first glance, it looks like Bob Kaminski and his Manville, N.J., home have rebounded nicely from the damage caused by Irene. The manicured lawn is free from the muddy and water-logged possessions that once rested there. Plus, his controversial “You Loot, I Shoot” sign is gone.
Photo Gallery: Hurricane Irene
One look at his basement, however, and it’s clear there’s still plenty of work to do.
“I’ve got a cracked foundation wall. They’ve gotta replace two walls and I’m paying to have the other two re-enforced,” Kaminski told CBS 2’s Elise Finch.
The contents of his basement are now in a storage container. It is one of many costs Kaminski said was not covered by homeowner’s insurance or FEMA.
In fact, he said a dispute with a contractor over whether flood waters were what really damaged his home resulted in him getting his FEMA check just a few weeks ago.
“Here I am six months later, finally rebuilding a foundation wall,” Kaminski said.
Kaminski said it’s going to cost him $150,000 to repair all of the damage from Hurricane Irene. He also said he’s only being reimbursed $85,000.
“I’m being killed with flood insurance. My homeowners has gone up double since the floods and I can’t move, I can’t leave,” Kaminski said. “The large farmhouse next to me was on the market for $189,000, not even a bid, not even a bid.”
Kaminski’s neighbors have similar stories and they said they want the government to buy the homes since no one else will, because it’s only a matter of time before another big storm devastates the area again.
Kaminski was just one of nearly 50,000 in New Jersey, who was approved for federal disaster assistance as a result of Hurricane Irene.
Places like Cranford are also still being affected. While flood waters receded long ago, questions remain about who will get federal money to lift their homes above the floodplain.
Evidence of Irene’s wrath still litters the town, but there will be more storms and more flooding. So to keep it from happening again, the township applied for FEMA funds to elevate homes and actually extend the foundations and lift them above the floodplain.
“Our plan is to raise all of the homes that satisfy FEMA’s definition of severe repetitive loss,” said Cranford Mayor David Robinson.
The force of the water blew out Karen Wolansky’s basement windows and flood waters rose.
“The house was basically filled with sewage and mud and silt,” Wolansky explained to CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock.
But, if FEMA does award money, there will only be enough to elevate some of the eligible homes. Fifty homeowners applied, but only 18 will get the boost for the hefty price tag of $190,000 a pop. The township decided which ones and some homeowners want to know why they’re homes didn’t make the cut.
“We need to elevate our home to protect ourselves from the next flood,” Wolansky said. “How were the homes selected? What was the criteria?”
The town said “Funding was based on neighborhoods closest to the body of water. We are being sensitive to privacy concerns.” Still some residents claim it’s not going down that way.
The rebuild and cleanup is also continuing in Fairfield, Conn.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Al Jones Reports
“Irene was a far worse, more severe storm — more than any storm I remember,” Steven Saff told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.
He said nearly every homeowner on Fairfield Beach Road suffered major damage — garages leveled, two sea walls washed away and five homes condemned.
However, he said that despite the damage and the aftermath, there is still plenty of hope for a better day.
“Standing here six months afterwards, it’s nice to watch some tulip bulbs come up, that nature seems to find a way to prevail,” Saff said.