Babylon and Mastic Beach are part of a pilot plan to elevate flood-prone dwellings that officials said could eventually extend to residences along 83 miles of coastline from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point. NewsdayTV's Steve Langford reports.  Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

By summer's end, eligible Mastic Beach and Babylon homeowners, many with dwellings battered by hurricanes and powerful storms and facing rising sea levels, can apply to a federal program to have their residences elevated, officials announced Thursday.

Up to 200 homes in flood prone areas across the two towns are eligible for the home elevation programpart of the Suffolk Fire Island to Montauk Point plan, also known as FIMP, a $2.4 billion initiative to reduce flood risk along 83 miles of coastline from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point, according to Brookhaven Town officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A total of $900 million from the initiative is being set aside to fund the house lifting program but whether other related costs like plumbing are covered will be determined on a case-by-case basis, according to Cliff Jones, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chief of the Planning Division in New York, who spoke after a news conference on Riviera Drive in Mastic Beach, an area prone to flooding.

“We know that people are eager to apply,” Jones said. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers previously identified 4,400 homes in Suffolk County eligible for elevation, based on factors like the property’s scale, size, the estimated cost of construction and location. Homes must be in the 10% flood plain — areas that face significant damage.

Roughly 1,200 of those homes identified by the Army Corps are within the Town of Brookhaven, with about 200 in Mastic Beachaccording to Town Supervisor Dan Panico. 

“We’re going to do everything that we can to partner with the Army Corps to make sure that the people that need this help the most stay in their homes,” Panico said Thursday.

Future storms continue to threaten homes within these vulnerable areas and homeowners could soon face higher home insurance costs, he added.

“You'll have instances where flood insurance premiums will price people out of their homes,” Panico said.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2025 or early 2026, said Alexander Young, a colonel and commander at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District.

“We're going to be learning as we go through this, that's why we're doing that initial pilot program so we can make this an overall better program,” Young said. 

Any potential relocation costs during the construction period are currently not covered but there is a bill pending to address that, officials said. In addition, a temporary relocation assistance program could allow homeowners to be reimbursed up to $20,000 for related housing costs. 

Massive weather systems on Long Island in the past decade or so have hit Babylon, Mastic Beach and surrounding communities hard. Superstorm Sandy damaged hundreds of homes in Mastic Beach, a hamlet of about 15,000 people. Sewage systems were overcome, pouring sewage into the flooded streets, yards and waterways.

More recently, a January coastal storm left parts of Babylon underwater and nearly destroyed a playground and pavilion at Overlook Town Beach.

Add to that a report last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies predicting the sea level rising 10 to 14 inches over the next 30 years, and the urgency to shore up vulnerable structures is clear, elected officials and flood experts have said.

By 2050, “moderate” flooding will happen 10 times as often as it does currently, according to the report.

Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said about 50 homeowners are expected to apply based on national program participation rates.

Some Mastic Beach residents welcomed the initiative but others said it was slow coming. 

Andres Rios, who has lived on Riviera Drive since 2010, said he intends to apply for the program. When the bay overflows during high tide and storms, Rios said, water seeps onto his lawn and sometimes, into his crawl space. During three to four storms a year, he added, the road floods.

“All this is a lake, two blocks of water and maybe two feet or three feet of water. So all the front of the house is just a lake for a few days

“The water and the storms have been increasing and are seemingly more aggressive,” he said. “It’s scary.”

Daniel Hassler, 44, who lives in a house on Blue Point Road with his wife, said he attended a previous meeting announcing the program.

“I think they’re dragging it along,” said Hassler, who will also apply. He said flooding issues, which are common on his block, took out his two trucks in January. His wife checks tidal times daily. 

“We don’t want our stuff destroyed,” Hassler said outside his home. 

“There is definitely fear. It’s not just during a storm or hurricane, it’s a normal occurrence,” he added. 

By summer's end, eligible Mastic Beach and Babylon homeowners, many with dwellings battered by hurricanes and powerful storms and facing rising sea levels, can apply to a federal program to have their residences elevated, officials announced Thursday.

Up to 200 homes in flood prone areas across the two towns are eligible for the home elevation programpart of the Suffolk Fire Island to Montauk Point plan, also known as FIMP, a $2.4 billion initiative to reduce flood risk along 83 miles of coastline from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point, according to Brookhaven Town officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A total of $900 million from the initiative is being set aside to fund the house lifting program but whether other related costs like plumbing are covered will be determined on a case-by-case basis, according to Cliff Jones, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chief of the Planning Division in New York, who spoke after a news conference on Riviera Drive in Mastic Beach, an area prone to flooding.

'Eager to apply'

“We know that people are eager to apply,” Jones said. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Eligible Mastic Beach and Babylon homeowners will be able to apply for a federal program to have their residences elevated.
  • Up to 200 homes in flood prone areas are eligible for the home elevation initiative.
  • A total of $900 million, out of a $2.4 billion initiative to reduce flood risk, is being set aside to fund the house-elevation program. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers previously identified 4,400 homes in Suffolk County eligible for elevation, based on factors like the property’s scale, size, the estimated cost of construction and location. Homes must be in the 10% flood plain — areas that face significant damage.

Roughly 1,200 of those homes identified by the Army Corps are within the Town of Brookhaven, with about 200 in Mastic Beachaccording to Town Supervisor Dan Panico. 

“We’re going to do everything that we can to partner with the Army Corps to make sure that the people that need this help the most stay in their homes,” Panico said Thursday.

Future storms continue to threaten homes within these vulnerable areas and homeowners could soon face higher home insurance costs, he added.

“You'll have instances where flood insurance premiums will price people out of their homes,” Panico said.

Temporary relocation help

Construction is expected to begin in late 2025 or early 2026, said Alexander Young, a colonel and commander at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District.

“We're going to be learning as we go through this, that's why we're doing that initial pilot program so we can make this an overall better program,” Young said. 

Any potential relocation costs during the construction period are currently not covered but there is a bill pending to address that, officials said. In addition, a temporary relocation assistance program could allow homeowners to be reimbursed up to $20,000 for related housing costs. 

Massive weather systems on Long Island in the past decade or so have hit Babylon, Mastic Beach and surrounding communities hard. Superstorm Sandy damaged hundreds of homes in Mastic Beach, a hamlet of about 15,000 people. Sewage systems were overcome, pouring sewage into the flooded streets, yards and waterways.

More recently, a January coastal storm left parts of Babylon underwater and nearly destroyed a playground and pavilion at Overlook Town Beach.

Rising sea levels

Add to that a report last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies predicting the sea level rising 10 to 14 inches over the next 30 years, and the urgency to shore up vulnerable structures is clear, elected officials and flood experts have said.

By 2050, “moderate” flooding will happen 10 times as often as it does currently, according to the report.

Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said about 50 homeowners are expected to apply based on national program participation rates.

Some Mastic Beach residents welcomed the initiative but others said it was slow coming. 

Andres Rios, who has lived on Riviera Drive since 2010, said he intends to apply for the program. When the bay overflows during high tide and storms, Rios said, water seeps onto his lawn and sometimes, into his crawl space. During three to four storms a year, he added, the road floods.

“All this is a lake, two blocks of water and maybe two feet or three feet of water. So all the front of the house is just a lake for a few days

“The water and the storms have been increasing and are seemingly more aggressive,” he said. “It’s scary.”

Daniel Hassler, 44, who lives in a house on Blue Point Road with his wife, said he attended a previous meeting announcing the program.

“I think they’re dragging it along,” said Hassler, who will also apply. He said flooding issues, which are common on his block, took out his two trucks in January. His wife checks tidal times daily. 

“We don’t want our stuff destroyed,” Hassler said outside his home. 

“There is definitely fear. It’s not just during a storm or hurricane, it’s a normal occurrence,” he added. 

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