HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Seven years after Superstorm Sandy, one of the hardest-hit towns is asking New York state to review alleged mismanagement in the rebuilding process for thousands of homes.
Many homeowners only recently found out they were supposed to elevate their houses, years after the funding to do so had dried up, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.
They rebuilt their storm-damaged homes years ago and thought they were done, until homeowners like the Cascios found out they needed to elevate their house to maintain their flood insurance and resale value.
“Absolutely devastating. It put our whole life on hold. It took away all our options,” Karen Cascio said.
They’re among thousands of Hempstead residents who never got their town inspection reports that could have qualified themin time for state and federal elevation funding.
“It’s grossly irresponsible. They were left in a filing cabinet to rot instead of communicating with residents and trying to help them rebuild after Sandy,” Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said.
Web Extra: Town Of Hempstead Building Department Audit Results Announced:
Now, Gillen wants the department responsible investigated by the state, citing a litany of disturbing complaints, including failure to notify homeowners, selectively delaying or expediting building permits, and looking the other way on code violations. It’s a buildings department that contractors say is completely unpredictable.
“Everybody has a different set of rules. There’s nothing that’s a clear path, not only for the permit but for the inspection process,” said Alan Kennemer of the Long Island Builders Institute.
Amid a flood of complaints from storm victims, state Sen. John Brooks has asked the New York Department of State to review the buildings department in the nation’s largest township.
“A plan is only as good as the weakest link and from the appearances of things right now the town of Hempstead Buildings Department is the weakest link,” Brooks said.
But town council members call the request politically motivated months before a contentious election.
“How can you indict a whole buildings department with over 100 people there on misconduct when you haven’t produced any evidence? These are crazy accusations. And by the way, we want to know as much as she wants to know, if there was misconduct,” Councilman Bruce Blakeman said.
Town officials said it will be more than an audit. They want an operational review of the Building Department, so that when the next storm inevitably hits, better protocols will be in place.
The state comptroller is also doing a financial review of the town at the request of town Supervisor Gillen.