Nearly 4,000 LIers to get more than $110,000 each in Sandy funds

William Borruso is shown in front of his

William Borruso is shown in front of his Babylon home as he opened a letter from the state's reconstruction program NY Rising. (Oct. 15, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

Almost 4,000 Long Island homeowners will receive on average more than $110,000 each under a post-Sandy housing reconstruction program, state officials said Tuesday.

Those who sought help from the state's NY Rising program are set to receive letters informing them of their award this week.

Statewide, $484.3 million has been allocated to homeowners with "unmet needs" -- rebuilding and repair costs not met by insurance or aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after superstorm Sandy, and tropical storms Irene and Lee in 2011.


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Most of that will go to Long Island, said Seth Diamond, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's director of storm recovery, with $369 million allocated to Nassau homeowners and $82 million in Suffolk.

The program remains open for applications.

"Any homeowner can apply without regard to income," Diamond said. An award follows an inspection of damage and a review of receipts, insurance money and government aid.

Those receiving money must sign the accompanying documents, pay one further visit to their program caseworker and should get their checks within 10 days, Diamond said.

The money comes from the first allocation of community block grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Of that, $838 million will go to housing needs in New York State from a total of $1.77 billion. Under the state program, 80 percent must go to Long Island and Rockland counties, with New York City covered under a separate $1.7 billion program.

Stephen J. Conklin of Seaford Harbor applied for aid after the National Flood Insurance Program rejected his claim. An insurance adjuster ruled his home's foundation had pre-existing damage not caused by Sandy floodwaters, Conklin said.

Conklin said he was deprived of $110,000 by the flood insurance program, which is run by the federal government. "NY Rising is supposedly going to make that up. I submitted a 200-page supplemental claim."

Conklin, 55, whose home is uninhabitable, said he paid $3,000 a year for flood insurance and "didn't expect to be homeless after a flood."

Tuesday, he received a letter stating he would receive $137,272.51 from the program. "Thanks, Governor Cuomo, thank you. I've been homeless for 12 months with two kids."

Bill Borruso and his wife, Meredith, of Pershing Avenue in Babylon, received a letter Tuesday saying they are eligible and are awaiting for everything to be finalized. They paid to raise their home after Irene, but through a series of mix-ups received no assistance for the elevation, which cost well over $70,000 -- nothing from their insurer or FEMA. Despite support from town officials, State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Borrusos remain uncompensated. Their home on the Great South Bay withstood Sandy while neighbors' homes were inundated.

"New York Rising's our last hope," Bill Borruso said Tuesday.

Diamond said an additional $50,000 is available to all applicants in the flood zone seeking to elevate their homes. Between 200 and 300 Long Island homeowners whose private bulkheads suffered damage would receive awards averaging around $100,000 each.

Mortgage assistance is also available under the program. The state is providing up to 20 months of help, capped at $3,000 a month. For homeowners forced to rent while reconstruction proceeds, the program will pay whichever is lower, the mortgage payment or rental, once a homeowner has supplied proof.

There were more than 6,000 applications to the program from Long Island, Rockland and a few upstate communities hard hit by Irene and Lee. In total, more than 5,000 homes were inspected, with the average award amount statewide $112,745. Maximum awards are capped at $300,000 to $350,000, depending on income.

Because thousands of homeowners are expected to now hire contractors for the work, the state is also funding more than $7 million so local governments -- towns and villages -- can hire added resources to aid with inspections for building permits, Diamond said.

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