Dozens of senior citizens have been displaced or are living in storm-ravaged apartments since their 132-unit rental housing complex in Baldwin was flooded by superstorm Sandy and contaminated by sewage backup, they say.
About 50 first-floor apartments at Halandia Shores -- a federally subsidized development on Grand Avenue in Baldwin -- were uninhabitable after the Oct. 29 storm, and the complex's management company has been slow to respond, residents say. But repairs will begin this week, said the attorney representing Broadwall Management Corp. in Levittown, a subsidiary of Manhattan-based The Feil Organization.
"The main concern we have is we have not heard from management," said Cathy Clemente, 80, who was among 35 residents who evacuated the 62-and-older complex. "These people ignored us completely."
Clemente, who has lived for 15 years in a one-bedroom apartment with a rent of $172 a month, said she lost most of her belongings when floodwaters from a nearby canal entered her apartment and sewage streamed out from a drain in the closet.
Carpets and about 3 feet of Sheetrock were removed by workers shortly after Sandy. Clemente, a retired certified nursing assistant, said she has black mold growing on her closet wall and worries it could aggravate her pulmonary hypertension.
"I see people living in their apartments, but I don't see how they are doing it," said Clemente, who has been staying with a friend in Baldwin Harbor.
Barbara Pace, 70, said she decided to brave the subpar living conditions and sleep on her flood-damaged couch because she didn't want to leave her two dogs. Pace, who moved into the complex in June, said she has been using a portable heater to stay warm and has mold growing on her kitchen walls.
"It's bad enough as it is right now," said Pace, who lost the car she bought a month before the storm. "Why don't they come and speak to us as humans? It's upsetting. It's very depressing."
After residents complained, the Hempstead Town building department has been working with the property managers "to streamline the recovery process," town spokesman Michael Deery said. The department has approved permits, made staff available to consult with the property owners' engineers and met on-site with building inspectors, Deery said.
Feil Organization attorney Brian Palumbo said all building permits required for the restoration work have been issued and work is scheduled to begin "at the latest" at the beginning of this week. Palumbo declined to comment on complaints about poor communication with tenants.
Adam Glantz, a spokesman with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, said the agency did not receive any complaints from Halandia residents, but officials are now "concerned with their welfare" due to Newsday's inquiry. Officials will send a construction analyst to the property "within a few days" and plan to meet with the owner this week to discuss plans for repairing the development to "ensure its habitability," he said.
2878 Grand Ave., Baldwin
Size: 4.52 acres
Market value: $7.09 million
Age restriction: 62 and older
No. of units: 132
Sandy-flooded units: 50
No. of evacuated residents: 35