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Long Island

Long Beach recovery fair helps homeowners struggling from Sandy

More than three years after superstorm Sandy damaged homes in Long Beach, Mitchell Prussman is getting ready to lift his house.

“I see a lot of houses being lifted and I want to get in on it,” said Prussman, 60, a high school teacher whose home has been partially repaired. He said he’s gotten the initial money from New York Rising, the state’s storm recovery program, to raise his house and now he’s talking to companies that could do the job.

For Prussman and others who attended Long Beach’s “Storm Recovery Resource Fair” on Sunday, rebuilding after Sandy has been a long road wrought with bureaucratic and financial bumps. The fairs, which are regular events occurring every two or three months, bring contractors, city and county government officials, lenders, plumbers, and house-raising companies together in one spot so residents can get information and talk to companies that could help them rebuild.

“A lot of people are still going through the process,” said Isabel Muñoz-Doerbecker, coordinator for the city’s residential rebuilding assistance program.

Long Beach homeowners, because they’re in a 100-year flood plain, are eligible to get funding through New York Rising. But the process can be daunting, she said. The state will pay half the cost upfront, but the remaining half comes in the form of reimbursement. This means the homeowner must come up with some money themselves.

The alternative to lifting can be costly. Those who don’t lift their homes can expect to see flood insurance costs rise by thousands of dollars in the coming years, she said.

“They are going to be paying more than someone who raises,” she said.

During the past three years, the city building department has issued 428 permits to raise houses, compared with no such permits in the three years before Sandy. The department also issued 3,253 certificates of completion and occupancy since Sandy, compared with 403 in the three years preceding the storm.

Peter Nelson, 63, an insurance agent from Long Beach, said he and his wife are renting while trying to figure out what to do about their damaged home.

“I want to rebuild and my wife is leaning toward the buyout,” Nelson said. He went to the fair to talk to contractors and wants to see if they can find more money to rebuild.

City Manager Jack Schnirman said the fairs help people “cut through the red tape” and the city will keep holding them for “as long as it takes.”

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