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Hempstead town officials ask Cuomo to send Sandy relief funds

During a media event Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016,

During a media event Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, in Island Park, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino criticizes the state for revoking grants to repair bulkheads damaged by superstorm Sandy along California Place North. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town officials are calling on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to release storm relief funds for Island Park-area homeowners still recovering from superstorm Sandy damage.

Town Supervisor Anthony Santino stood with residents on California Place North in the unincorporated Barnum Island neighborhood where residents were denied funding for bulkheading because their homes sit across the street from the bulkheads along California Canal.

The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, which manages NY Rising funds, reported that the bulkheads do not qualify for federal funding because they are separated from the house by the street and do not “directly protect the integrity of the house.”

Several residents said that they were previously approved for funding and signed contracts with workers to undertake repairs, but were notified in October that their homes did not qualify for state and federal grants.

Santino called on Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, and President-elect Donald Trump to release funding.

Santino, Hempstead Town Board members and Island Park residents signed a petition Tuesday to send to Cuomo and the storm recovery office.

“We’ve written to the governor asking him to intercede on fulfilling his promise,” Santino said. “We need to let the governor know we’re mad. We need to let him know this funding is critical to residents on California Canal.”

Residents own the waterfront property in front of their homes. Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their bulkheads at their own cost.

Santino’s plea comes after State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) last month asked Cuomo to restore the bulkhead funding.

Representatives with the governor’s office last week responded to Kaminsky, writing that all grant funding is based on eligibility and federal requirements.

State officials were unable to conclude that bulkheads across the street in the canal were protecting homes, wrote Storm Recovery Director Lisa Bova-Hiatt. She said funding can be rescinded after a home is inspected and deemed ineligible.

Any release of funds “must have a demonstrable tieback to superstorm Sandy and we must show the projects we support are directly connected to damage sustained during the storm,” Bova-Hiatt wrote.

State officials, asked to comment on Santino’s request, referred to Bova-Hiatt’s letter.

Island Park resident Theresa McSpedon said residents need to fix the bulkheading to protect their homes.

“It makes me want to cry,” McSpedon said of not getting the funding. “Although we live across street, it’s still hard work living on the water. We’re certainly affected if there isn’t help on the canals.”

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