Federal and state emergency management officials have agreed to visit Suffolk County this week to determine if the damage from last week's blizzard qualifies for disaster assistance.
Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state Office of Emergency Management will meet Wednesday with county officials in Yaphank to review reports prepared by the county, towns, villages and state agencies that have facilities in the county. Thursday or Friday they will visit sites damaged in the Dec. 26-27 storm.
FEMA representatives will conduct a preliminary damage assessment, agency spokesman Don Caetano said.
If the storm is found to have caused at least $4 million in damage in Suffolk - as well as $25 million statewide - county and other governments will qualify for reimbursement of repair costs and individual property owners might qualify for low-interest loans.
Andrew Feeney, director of the state emergency management office, requested Monday that FEMA come to Suffolk. Feeney's spokesman, Dennis Michalski, said the state is certain the damage statewide will meet the FEMA $25 million threshold.
Joseph Williams, Suffolk commissioner of fire, rescue and emergency services, said the county is "in the early stage of the process" of damage evaluation. He said local officials will prepare damage estimates "and the county then submits them to the federal government."
The county has 30 days from the date of the storm to request assistance, he said.
Typically, he said, the federal government provides 75 percent of the cost of replacing eroded shoreline sand, the state chips in 12.5 percent and waterfront homeowners who seek individual assistance pay the rest.
Southampton Town police reported 10,000 cubic yards of sand that had been placed to prevent erosion just west of Shinnecock Inlet was gone, but it apparently had done its job as there was no damage to the inlet groins. Elsewhere in the town, Tiana Beach was hard hit, losing its beach and part of the actual dune. But Ponquogue Beach saw a buildup of sand.
Steven Lamberg, a dentist who lives on the west side of Eatons Neck, was calling contractors Monday for estimates to repair his property's bulkhead, which he said was destroyed. "It will cost me about $100,000 to replace it," he said. "It is not reparable. There are about six other bulkheads like it in my neighborhood. Crews have been working all up and down the beach."
Lamberg, who has lived in his house for 30 years, said, "I've never seen that before."