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Fire Sprinklers Add To Sandy Victim’s Financial Woes

State Law Requires Sprinkler Systems For 3-Story Buildings
Baldwin home now needs sprinkler system. (Credit CBS 2)

Baldwin home now needs sprinkler system. (Credit CBS 2)

BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – One Long Island homeowner claims new flood standards mandating her home be raised following Hurricane Sandy are causing a financial nightmare.

Just off the central canal in Baldwin, Teresa Wittenberg’s new home, replacing the one wrecked by Sandy a year ago, is much taller. So much taller that now town officials said the raised home is considered three stories tall and under state law, must have a fire sprinkler system, CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported.

Wittenberg has been living with her family inside a trailer parked outside their home, desperate for a state grant to finish repairs, Tyler said.

“It was enough that we lost our house during the hurricane and we had to take it down and now we’re rebuilding, and now you’re asking us for stuff, that’s ridiculous,” Wittenberg said.

A Town of Hempstead spokesman acknowledged the issue saying, “it’s unfortunate for Sandy victims, but these are state regulations.”

However, the state relies on local building inspectors to decide when to require sprinklers, and contractors have said there is no clear standard, Tyler reported.

“From town to town, area to area, inspector to inspector, it seems to be different all over. I wish somebody would just straighten it,” said Ben Jackson, of Ben’s General Contracting in Freeport.

According to Jackson, a sprinkler system can cost upwards of $20,000.

A state spokesman told CBS 2 that victims can file an appeal and try to get a variance, however it is a lengthy and uncertain process.

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