Gov. Cuomo Asks Feds To Consider FEMA Aid

ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked the federal government to begin considering FEMA aid for homeowners who sustained flood damage during last week’s historic rainstorm, but first a tally is needed.

Islip officials are urging homeowners to report flood damage to the town and allow inspectors in to assess their homes.

As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, teams of housing inspectors are going door to door looking for damage.

“We’re concerned that people have water damage to their electrical system,” said Town Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt. “The longer that goes on, the more of a risk you face if you don’t get it fixed. Also, the mold concern. The longer you leave it, the worse it could get.”

John Carney, the town’s head of public safety, said people might not be aware of electrical damage and are “at risk of having a fire.”

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, fans are still drying out the Islip home Melanie Lopez shares with her sister, their waterlogged possessions heaped in a pile by the curb.

“We had entertainment centers, beds, the kids — thank goodness they weren’t sleeping down here,” she said.

But during the cleanup, they realized far more could be lost: their electrical outlets were submerged under water.

“It was by my knees and I was in the water when I realized that it had passed the outlets, so I’m lucky to be here,” Stacy Guzman said.

The damage tally is still being counted after last Wednesday’s record 13.5-inch rainfall, Gusoff reported.

“It’s very important we give a number to FEMA so we can get reimbursement,” Bergin Weichbrodt said.

The town must meet a damage threshold to qualify for federal financial assistance.

“A lot of these houses were not in waterfront areas and they were flooded, and they have no flood insurance,” said Bergin Weichbrodt. “And that’s why it’s so very important for us to get these figures together, get inspectors into these homes, and get a number for FEMA so that we can get some funds.”

Carney said he’s hoping town residents will cooperate, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

“We would like to inspect as many homes as possible, but we can’t do that unless the residents are willing to let us in,” he said.

Suffolk County is well on its way to the $35 million threshold of public property damage thanks in part to dozens of sinkholes, Gusoff reported.

Private property damage is also adding up, including one West Islip backyard that caved into a canal.

Karen Yee Kee’s three cars were flooded and water gushed into her house during the storm. She said she hadn’t thought to report her damage to her town or of the electrical dangers until now.

“It dried out a little bit and the lights are on, I didn’t think that I should be concerned,” she said.

Officials so far estimate at least 400 homes suffered flood damage.

“We don’t know how many more houses are still out there, and that’s why we’re urging people to please come forward,” Bergin Weichbrodt said.

Town of Islip inspectors will be carrying a town badge and identification with them as they ask homeowners to check for electrical damage and black mold.

The actual cost of the repair will rest with homeowners, many of whom never saw the need for flood insurance because they live inland.

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