FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — More help is on the way for thousands of Superstorm Sandy victims.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday on Long Island that the state will pick up the tab to elevate homes for anyone who is in the 100-year flood zone and wants to raise their house. New York has committed to spending up to $300 million on the program.
Cuomo made the announcement at a home in Freeport that was devastated by Sandy in 2012.
As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, the sight of homes being raised high enough to resist damage from future storms is becoming a common one on Long Island’s South Shore. Homeowners who have been through Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy say it is the only way to have some peace of mind.
“I can’t live here and go through a third storm,” said JoAnne Page, of Freeport. “And I love Freeport, I love being here, but I can’t do a third storm.”
Previously, the state would pay for homes to be raised only if homeowners were required to do so by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to obtain flood insurance. Elevating a home could cost upwards of $200,000.
About 6,500 homeowners on Long Island are eligible for the funding, Cuomo said.
“I think it’s something you should seriously consider,” the governor said.
Homeowner Daniel Ehrick is taking the governor up on the offer. He raised his home more than 11 feet to avoid the ordeal of gutting it again.
“I’m not going to spend five weeks cleaning Sheetrock and carpeting and spraying for mold every three or four days,” Ehrick said.
Ehrick said he now hopes to move home by Thanksgiving, and as TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported, Ehrick said many of his neighbors are now ready to follow his lead.
“The house behind us is going up almost as high as I am,” he said. “Four houses down at the end of the block are going up. A house over here is going up.”
Cuomo called it the new normal to protect against future storms that could be similar to Sandy.
“It is going to happen again, and our challenge is to be better prepared,” the governor said.
Cuomo added that the program is optional for homeowners are not required to raise their homes to get federal flood insurance.
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