East Quogue homeowner rebuilds with 'faith'
Aimee Whalen had enough.
Her East Quogue home flooded twice in two years -- from Tropical Storm Irene, then from superstorm Sandy.
"I just can't go through this again. For me, I need to lift it. This is what I have to do," she said, standing in front of the house, which has been raised about 6 feet on steel beams and wooden cribbing. She is awaiting construction of a higher foundation that will contain flood vents.
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Whalen, 54, a registered nurse at East End Hospice, said she "stepped out on faith" weeks ago, determined to elevate her home even without guarantees that all the needed money would be coming from her insurance company and the government's National Flood Insurance Program.
Her three-bedroom ranch, about a quarter-mile from Shinnecock Bay, took on about 2 feet of water from Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.
After 10 months of repair and renovation, she and her son, Jimi Sobeck, 22, had only been back in the house for two months when Sandy struck. The house was again severely damaged, this time by 11/2 to 2 feet of water.
A crew from Davis Construction Building Movers, of Blue Point, raised the house Feb. 5. Ultimately, when it is lowered onto its new foundation, it will be 5 feet higher than it was.
Steps leading to the front of the house will have to be constructed and a new rear deck built. Then renovations must be made to the flood-damaged interior.
Whalen doesn't yet know the total cost. She had private flood insurance. And because her home retained more than 50 percent of its pre-storm market value, she has applied for a grant under the National Flood Insurance Program's Increased Cost of Compliance provision, which could bring her up to $30,000.
"I deserve the ICC," she said of that grant. "I'm the primary resident here. It's not a secondary home, and I flooded twice."
The elevation by Davis Construction cost $21,800, but that doesn't include other work on the outside of the house. Renovations to the interior and replacement of appliances are estimated at $100,000.
Last week, Whalen got good news. On Valentine's Day, she received a check of nearly $95,000 from her insurance company. That was in addition to an earlier $25,000 advance from the company.
She couldn't immediately deposit the check, because regulations require that she forward it to the bank that holds her mortgage for its endorsement. Now, she's just waiting for "the turnaround time" of when she'll actually be able to begin paying contractors.
"It's all going to be OK," she said.