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Federal Aid To Cover Suffolk Home Elevations; Nassau Residents Not Eligible

State Sen. Fuschillo: 'It's Absurd That They Weren't Included'

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Superstorm Sandy

AMITYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An ambitious plan has been unveiled to elevate thousands of homes on Long Island that flooded during Hurricane Sandy and it will be paid for by the federal government.

But as CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday, the project leaves out many other homeowners because they live in Nassau, not Suffolk County.

Rich Kissel had to rebuild after Sandy flooded his Amityville home. He said the news that the feds will cover the costs to elevate his house was unexpected and very welcome.

“Bring it on, we’ll go up tomorrow,” he told Gusoff.

WEB EXTRA: Read Sen. Fuschillo’s Letter (pdf)

The United States Army Corps of Engineers has earmarked $500 million to lift 4,500 homes five to 10 feet to weather future storms.

“I’m all for it. I understand those who don’t live in a flood-prone area who say, ‘well, why should my tax dollars go to it,'” Amityville resident Chris Carman said.

The homes selected for the project are in the 10-year flood plain, meaning they’re likely to flood again within 10 years.

“The solution that gives you the most long-term fix is to elevate houses and get them out of the flood plain,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic policy chief Joseph Vietri.

Army Corps officials said the plan is in everyone’s best interest because it’s not feasible to relocate so many people.

But across the county line, Nassau homeowners won’t get federal money to elevate.

“It’s not fair. We pay flood insurance, we pay our taxes, we pay everything. We get nothing in return,” Massapequa resident Rob Walker told Gusoff.

Walker said he couldn’t afford the $100,000 to lift up his home so it had to be bulldozed.

Army Corps officials said the plan to assist Suffolk residents in the flood plain has been in the works for decades, long before Sandy hit, back when Suffolk was considered more vulnerable than Nassau.

But a local lawmaker said those estimations were clearly proved wrong by Sandy.

“We are going to request that Nassau County is part of it. It’s absurd that they weren’t included,” State Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Massapequa) said.

He said he’ll ask the Army Corps to reconsider.

Taxpayers also weighed in on whether federal funding should be used at all to assist affected homeowners.

“Don’t feel it should be done,” North Bellmore resident Fred Schramm told Gusoff. “I feel it should be assumed as a risk the homeowner assumes when they buy in a perilous area.”

“The more homes that we raise, the area’s coming back and it’s going to raise everybody’s property values so we’re all going to win,” Amityville resident Paul Westphal said.

Maps are still being fine-tuned to determine which homes will be lifted courtesy of Uncle Sam, Gusoff reported.

The home elevation plan is part of an 83-mile project that will also rebuild dunes from Fire Island to Montauk. Communities in Nassau County will also get funds for dune rebuilding.

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