Partially treated sewage continues to pour into Reynolds Channel from...

Partially treated sewage continues to pour into Reynolds Channel from the Bay Park Plant. This view is looking east, Long Beach is on the right. (Nov. 20, 2012) Credit: Doug Kuntz

A number of Sandy-hit Nassau and Suffolk residents Thursday urged Cuomo officials to improve sewage systems that now cause environmental damage and impede economic growth.

Though their homes and properties were damaged or lost in superstorm Sandy, some people at last night's public hearing held back their grievances about rebuilding delays.

Instead, the dominant theme last night appeared to be waste water.

Aside from one individual, "universally, everybody else -- either from Lindenhurst to Mastic -- was speaking about the dire need for sewers," said Jim Graham, 59, who lives in Freeport and has a vacation home in Jamestown.

At the first of two public hearings on Long Island, officials from the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery presented the new New York State "action plan" for spending the second release of funds -- a total of $2.097 billion -- under a superstorm Sandy relief program run by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.

"What I think is really important is that everyone comes up and is speaking about themselves," said Barbara O'Malley of Mastic Beach.

Referring to a proposed Mastic-Shirley sewer district project, she added: "If this keeps the Great South Bay . . . from being polluted, that helps everyone."

About 75 people attended the hearing at the Suffolk County legislative building in Hauppauge, at which about two dozen people spoke. A few protesters carried signs saying "Save Forge River" and "Sewers -- Economic Development."

The state will revise its plan to reflect last night's public comments and then it must be approved by HUD.

The funds must be spent for three purposes and, under the plan, housing would get $1.12 billion, community reconstruction would receive $441 million, and $430 million would go for infrastructure.

Jerry Matejka of Commack said delays in obtaining funds to rebuild a low-income two-family home he owns and rents in Island Park spurred him in December to write directly to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The governor wrote back in January, saying the proper administration officials were handling the matter.

Matejka, an information technologist, said the property suffered $100,000 of damage and -- unlike his tenants -- he did not qualify for FEMA aid because he did not live there.

Saying he did not "begrudge" the help already granted owner-occupiers, he noted that his tenants were able to return to the house though repairs are incomplete.

"The point is they need to address an unmet need for rental housing," he said.

Because the plan divides the funds by category, not by county, it was not clear how much money will go to Nassau and Suffolk.

All of money comes from HUD's $16 billion Community Development Block Grant program, and is part of the $60 billion in aid Congress approved for areas walloped by Sandy.

New York expects to get about half of the $60 billion, according to the state budget plan.

The first installment of HUD money, which the state received last spring, totaled $1.71 billion. HUD sent New York City a little more -- $1.77 billion -- in a separate allocation.

Nassau will host the second action plan hearing on March 5 at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola. The two-hour hearing starts at 6:30 p.m.

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