Almost 5 Years Later, Some Sandy Victims Are Still Waiting For Help

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brooklyn and Queens homeowners are still waiting for the help they were promised after Superstorm Sandy.

Four-and-a-half years after the storm dozens of homeowners need money to elevate their homes.

Now, they’re no longer considered eligible for grant money.

Jeffrey Lopez’s small Rockaway Beach home is tucked between towering neighbors’ homes. He thought his was up next.

“We were promised to be lifted about future flood waters so that we would not be affected the way we were during Hurricane Sandy,” he said.

Then a letter arrived from NYC Build It Back.

“We got yanked. We got denied elevation,” he said.

Lopez is one of 70 storm victims in Queens and Brooklyn first approved for elevation, now denied.

Build It Back — the city program created to repair and rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, told residents that re-assessments showed homes were ‘not substantially damaged’ or ‘already at the right elevation.’

Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office said it’s working with more than a dozen constituents who have actually moved out in preparation for elevation. After waiting for years in the program, they’re finding out now, they’re no longer eligible.

But why re-assess now?

A spokesman for HUD said a federal review raised, “concerns that costs were not reasonable,” Build It Back was told, “to keep a watchful eye on costs.”

“I think it’s unfair. We all suffered amazing amounts of damage. We applied for this grant program — for one reason or another some people moved through the process much more quickly than others,” Lopez said.

Lopez fears his flood insurance rates will soar

“They came back a year-and-a-half after I redid my house and said, you have to go up five-and-a-half feet, so I have to do what they tell me,” he said.

Lopez was offered rehabilitation of his house, and the opportunity to appeal.

Ninety-four percent of more than 8,000 homeowners have received Build It Back funds totaling more than $129-million.

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