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Cuomo Announces Buyouts For Sandy-Decimated Staten Island Homeowners

Governor: 129 Houses Will Be Eligible For Pre-Storm Market Value Buyouts

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — More than 100 Staten Island families have been offered state buyouts to leave their flood-prone neighborhood behind.

As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported Monday, the second round of buyouts offered will benefit residents of Ocean Breeze, which was decimated by Hurricane Sandy.

The enclave is surrounded by beach on one side and a tidal marsh on three others.

Two neighborhood residents, Ella Norris and James Rossi Sr., drowned when Sandy struck. Rushing floodwaters knocked down 20 houses. Most of the rest were badly damaged.

“We lost people and I can tell ya this is what people in Ocean Breeze never want to do again. We never want to do a memorial for any of our neighbors ever again,” Frank Moszczynski, head of the Ocean Breeze Civic Association, told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Diane Hague said her family has been in Ocean Breeze for five generations.

“I am happy with a heavy heart,” Hague told Silverman. “But I am happy. I can’t do this anymore, I really can’t.”

About two-thirds of the homes in Ocean Breeze remain uninhabited more than a year after Sandy, Silverman reported.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the buyouts Monday.

“There are parcels along the water that really belong to Mother Nature,” Cuomo said. “She may only come to visit once every couple of years.”

The governor announced 129 homeowners are eligible for the buyout and most are expected to take the offer, Silverman reported.

“We will reimburse them the fair market value of the home before the storm, so this way the home owner won’t actually be damaged,” Cuomo said. “They will be made whole.”

The governor said the properties will not be built upon. The homes that are still standing will be taken down. The space will be left open or transformed into coastal buffer zones.

“We’re not telling people, Marcia, who should sell or what communities should sell. Leave it up to them, but as many communities that want to participate we have funding,” Cuomo told Kramer.

In February, the governor announced voluntary buyouts for Oakwood Beach homeowners, also at pre-storm market value.

Residents said Ocean Breeze has been a ghost town since Sandy hit and, while they’re sad to go, said it’s the right thing to do.

“We’ve had 1,100 years of storms in three years,” Moszczynski said. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to go through it again and nobody in my neighborhood wants to go through it again.”

Moszczynski has lived in Ocean Breeze for 43 years, but said he’ll move to higher ground with the money from the buyout.

“He’s given us a second chance at life today,” Moszczynski said of the governor.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)