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Brookhaven waives fees for rain-swamped homes

Brookhaven Town Hall

Brookhaven Town Hall Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

Brookhaven Town residents whose homes were damaged by torrential floods last month will find one less piece of red tape to deal with as they rebuild.

The town board voted unanimously last week to waive building fees for homeowners making repairs due to the Aug. 13 storm, which dumped a state-record 13.57 inches of rain at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.

That could save homeowners hundreds of dollars when they repair flooded basements and oil burners, Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said.

Romaine said about 2,000 homes in central Brookhaven hamlets such as Centereach, Holtsville, Holbrook and Selden were affected by the floods.

"These people suffered a terrible loss," he said. "The least that we can do is to say that if you suffered this damage, we're not going to make you pay any fees to get any permits to fix this damage."

Islip Town also has agreed to waive filing fees and emergency repair permit fees for homes and businesses damaged by the storm. The Babylon Town Board plans to waive building fees for flood victims, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said.

Many Long Island homeowners affected by the storm, especially those who live far from the South and North shores, are struggling to rebuild because they did not have flood insurance, officials have said.

Romaine and Islip and Babylon supervisors Tom Croci and Richard Schaffer have asked Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to request federal financial aid for towns and residents affected by the storm. Cuomo has said he is awaiting reports from the Federal Emergency Management Agency before requesting federal aid.

Romaine and Councilman Kevin LaValle said Brookhaven would refund homeowners who have already paid building fees to repair storm damage.

LaValle said he viewed damage to houses that was "the worst possible that you could imagine," such as flooding that turned yards into "lakes."

"This storm affected the most vulnerable people of Long Island. It affected people without flood insurance," he said.

Waiving building fees is "a way government can lead by example," LaValle said.

Romaine said the town also will not cite homeowners for building code violations found by town inspectors after the storm. "If that was discovered as a result of this rain event, we will not cite people," Romaine said.

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