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FEMA officials tour Suffolk areas hit by record rainfall

A FEMA official, left, with clipboard, walks past

A FEMA official, left, with clipboard, walks past a large sinkhole at a home at 7 Cobblestone Ct. in Centereach on Wednesday Aug. 20, 2014. Several large sinkholes that resulted from last week's historic rainfall caused extensive damage to the home. Credit: James Carbone

Federal and state emergency management officials Wednesday saw flood-damaged yards and basements and inspected sinkholes that swallowed a row of fence posts during a tour of homes damaged by last week's record-breaking rainstorm.

Guided by Suffolk County and town officials, workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state Office of Emergency Services visited communities such as Centereach and Farmingville, where residents -- many of whom did not have flood insurance -- said flash floods from the Aug. 13 storm caused thousands of dollars' worth of damage.

Brookhaven, Islip and Babylon town officials hope the FEMA tour helps persuade federal officials to declare the region a disaster area, making the towns eligible for federal financial aid.

Among the stops was the Centereach home of Tricia Lomando, where floodwaters left behind four sinkholes into which sank a row of fence posts. The flooding also caused thousands of dollars in damage to a Brookhaven Town drainage system that runs along Lomando's property line.

"This one was a little scary when it swallowed the fence posts," Lomando said, adding that flood insurance was "not something that I even thought was needed because of where we are."

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said it would cost "at least $15,000" to repair the town drain system along Lomando's yard. Town officials hope to be at least partially reimbursed by FEMA.

"Our costs are rising exponentially," Romaine said.

The storm dumped a state-record 13.57 inches of rain in less than 24 hours at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. Romaine said the storm damaged 200 to 250 homes in Brookhaven and caused at least $10 million in damage to town roads and facilities.

FEMA has said it expects to continue inspecting flood damage Thursday and Friday.

Carla Peres of Farmingville said a FEMA team visited her home Wednesday, taking photographs of sinkholes in her front and back yards that collapsed her patio and driveway. She said she also had more than 4 feet of water in her basement when the storm struck.

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