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FEMA OKs $3M for Riverhead families

Homes are partially underwater along Horton Avenue in

Homes are partially underwater along Horton Avenue in Riverhead days after a major storm flooded the neighborhood. (March 31, 2010) Credit: James Carbone

Nineteen months after a nor’easter caused havoc across Long Island and forced a dozen families on Horton Avenue in Riverhead to abandon their homes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has finally approved nearly $3 million to reimburse those Horton Avenue families for the loss of their houses.

The money has been included in a $6 million reimbursement to local government agencies for their costs in mitigating the erosion and flooding caused by the March 2010 storm.

Many of those houses — flooded with water, waste oil, sewage and other contaminants — had to be abandoned because of mold and contamination, forcing those families to seek housing elsewhere.

Now, under federal guidelines, the homes can be demolished and the area on the southern end of Horton Avenue can be turned into an artificial wetland as part of a comprehensive stormwater management project, according to Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton).

Bishop, Suffolk Legis. Edward Romaine (R-Center Moriches) and Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter will meet today with the Horton Avenue families to discuss how long the reimbursement process will take, and to explain how the fair market value of their homes will be determined.

“We made a promise to the residents of Horton Avenue that we would fight for them, and I am proud to say we kept it,” Bishop said in a statement.

FEMA rules call for the demolition and reconstruction work to be done and paid for locally, and then submitted to the federal government for reimbursement.

Romaine said the town would purchase the homes and enlarge a town park, while the county would assist the Horton Avenue families in finding new, permanent housing.

The restoration project is expected to cost $2.99 million, with the federal government paying $2.24 million. A second phase, to control runoff from nearby farms, will cost an additional $608,631, with the federal government paying $456,473.

The storm, which dumped 8 inches of rain over 36 hours on already-flooded farm fields above Horton Avenue, was called the worst in 30 years by town officials.



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