The Elmont senior housing co-op on Foster Lane, where about...

The Elmont senior housing co-op on Foster Lane, where about 100 residents were forced out last week due to flooding, has a history of such occurrences as well as violations deeming it unsafe for occupancy, Nassau and Hempstead officials said. Credit: Howard Simmons

The Elmont senior housing co-op where about 100 residents were forced out last week because of flooding has a history of such occurrences as well as violations deeming it unsafe for occupancy, Nassau and Hempstead officials said.

Friday's evacuation of the Foster Meadow Lane retirement complex after floodwaters inundated the co-op was the second since 2021 after a powerful storm. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul's office said Monday she would seek federal disaster aid based on infrastructure damage. 

About a dozen residents of the complex remained Monday at an American Red Cross shelter at New Hyde Park Memorial High School. Fifty residents who had previously stayed at the shelter have since found temporary housing. A sign posted on the Elmont co-op's front door by Hempstead Town building inspectors declared it unsafe and “unfit for human occupancy.” 

Residents at the emergency shelter were working with Red Cross volunteers to connect with insurance companies and find other temporary housing.

“I would move if I could but I can’t afford to and I don’t know what to do. I’m homeless,” said a sobbing Ophelia Scott, 90, who has lived at the co-op for 12 years. “I would love a place to go and be comfortable. In these golden years, I never thought I’d be going through something like this.”

Late Monday, Nassau officials said the county would pay to put the remaining sheltered residents up at a Long Island Marriott hotel for a week, starting Tuesday.

Officials with the Red Cross said they were helping many of the same residents who were forced out of their homes two years ago, when the remnants of Hurricane Ida flooded the apartment building. 

The building is independently operated and run by the Manhattan company Woods and Ruff Management, which has not returned calls seeking comment.

The co-op was shuttered in 2021 and again on Friday, both times after officials had to cut power to the building due to flooding. 

Nassau County fire marshals and the town have noted a lengthy history of violations at the building, said Fire Marshal Mike Uttaro.

Firefighters have been called to the complex for a series of fire code violations and alarms out of service.

The building has code violations dating back to at least 2018, Hempstead Town officials said, including in January 2022 when it was deemed an “unsafe structure” due to fire alarm violations, and again earlier this year for other violations that were corrected, town officials said.

Town building inspectors said the complex was built outside the flood plain, but the electric panels and alarm systems are located in the basement, which was flooded with more than 6 feet of water this past weekend.

“The biggest obstacle is the building is run by a cooperative and these folks don’t have anyone to take responsibility or have any money to fix anything,” Uttaro said. “A lot of them are elderly and some have disabilities.”

Red Cross officials said they have had trouble reaching Woods and Ruff Management and are working to connect those sheltered at the high school gym with insurance companies and emergency resources. Many of the evacuees have been sleeping on cots and staying at the gym for meals.

“We don’t know what to tell them. They want to know when they can go home, but we’re not hearing from the management company,” said Red Cross Long Island CEO Jose Dominguez of the stranded co-op residents. “We’ll still be here tomorrow and perhaps Wednesday, but we know the school needs a return to normalcy.”

Several residents of the co-op came back to the complex Monday where they climbed stairs to their apartments and collected some belongings like medication.Large fans brought in to dry soaked carpet on the lobby stairs buzzed. Yellow caution tape warned against entering the flooded basement.

Jan Thompson stood in the lobby of the three-story building with a bag of her belongings. She said she has been evacuated three times from the building and was living in the New Hyde Park shelter.

“It’s not comfortable. It’s difficult and exhausting,” she said. “We can’t afford to move and we’ve been waiting for management to engage to get start fixing things, but it’s at a standstill. I’m frustrated for not knowing this was coming and a flooded area.”

Asked where she was planning to go after leaving the shelter, “I wish I knew.”

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