Bayville residents demand house-raising funds

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) held a news conference on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 to reassure Long Island residents who suffered damage during Wednesday?s severe rain storm that they can count on the federal government for assistance in their recovery. (Credit: James Carbone and News 12 Long Island)

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More than 100 residents have told Bayville officials they want the help provided by the recent expansion of the state's New York Rising program to raise houses in the 100-year floodplain.

But village trustee Timothy Charon said he was told by program officials that since homeowners did not apply for home raising aid before the filing deadline in April -- and their homes did not have damage from superstorm Sandy that qualified them for New York Rising aid -- they are ineligible.

That is unacceptable, he said. "We are the prime candidates for the home raising program," Charon said. "They want this program, they need it for their houses."

Charon said he's appealed to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office and to Jon Kaiman, special adviser for Long Island storm recovery, to no avail.

Last month, Cuomo announced the state would make $300 million available to raise 6,575 houses that are in the floodplain but were not among the 1,400 that were initially funded.

Those houses initially funded had to have suffered substantial damage -- defined as needing repairs costing more than 50 percent of the market value of the house. They were also required to raise their homes. Now an optional program is open to homes with less damage.

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Kaiman said the program was not intended for the homeowners Charon says need help and that even if the deadline were extended it wouldn't necessarily mean more Bayville residents would be eligible. He added that 45 Bayville homes in the NY Rising program that did not suffer substantial damages are now eligible for home raising funding.

"The program was open for a year . . . and those who had needs applied," Kaiman said. "There are those that the trustee is talking about who didn't have needs relating to Sandy but want to elevate independent of Sandy damage, and that's not really what our program is for."

The program was meant to make up for the gap in funding from grants and insurance to repair and in some cases raise homes, Kaiman said. He said reopening the deadline is not being contemplated.

Most Bayville homeowners who suffered damage received grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and flood insurance money, Charon said. While that may have kept them from applying for New York Rising funds, recurring floods means Bayville needs its homes raised just as much as the South Shore, Charon said.

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