Deemed A 'Win-Win' By Many, Some Look At Program As Step Toward Closure

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than 150 homeowners in hurricane-ravaged Oakwood Beach, Staten Island, found out Monday that their homes will be the first to be bought out by the state.

And as 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, it’s exactly what they wanted.

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There were floods and brush fires in Oakwood Beach all too often before Sandy, but the hurricane was the last straw. In all, 165 homeowners banded together and made a decision, and they are finally getting some closure.

“Ninety-some odd percent of the neighborhood wants out,” said Joseph Monte. “This isn’t a few residents.”

Monte’s home is not safe to enter, or even breathe in.

“My home now, it just ruined, and it’s surrounded by water. Mother Nature has taken my home back. It should have been there from the beginning,” Monte said.

And that is where it will go. The land where the homes stood, along with the 164 others, will be a natural buffer from future storms. They will be bought out under a plan by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“This is exactly what needed to be done,” added Neil Filipowicz.

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Filipowicz does not live in Oakwood Beach, but his brother did with his family. His brother and nephew drowned in Sandy surge water in their home, which flooded before.

Filipowicz said he remembered the situation at the time of Tropical Storm Irene.

“He sandbagged and the foundation held, but all the storms, and all the saltwater, and all the pressure – eventually it started wearing on that wall,” Filipowicz said.

Joseph Tirone helped organize the group of 165 homeowners who want out, and said this is a win-win.

“People’s property, even if everything was brought back to pre-storm condition, it would still be a 50 percent discount,” Tirone said. “People wouldn’t want to live there.”

Homeowners will get pre-storm values, and extra incentives to stay on Staten Island – which Monte said he plans to do.

“Oh yes, I love Staten Island,” he said. “I’m just done with the water.”

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