38° Good Afternoon
38° Good Afternoon
Long IslandTowns

Town, county leaders worry FEMA may not provide aid for August flooding

Mike Grassullo wades through the water in front

Mike Grassullo wades through the water in front of his house in North Babylon to check on his vehicles Wednesday morning, Aug. 13, 2014. Credit: Jim Staubitser

Suffolk County and town officials say they are worried that the Federal Emergency Management Agency may reject financial aid for homeowners affected by the torrential August storm that flooded basements and yards.

County Executive Steve Bellone and the supervisors of Islip, Brookhaven and Babylon towns said this week that homeowners may not qualify for federal aid because damage caused by the Aug. 13 storm did not meet FEMA's criteria for disaster assistance.

FEMA spokesman Don Caetano said the agency is in the final stages of damage assessment and it was "premature" to speculate whether it would deny aid to residents.

"None of our people have communicated that" to the towns, he said.

Local officials have estimated the storm -- which dumped a state-record 13.57 inches of rain at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma -- caused tens of millions of dollars' worth of damage.

In a letter sent this week to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, supervisors Tom Croci of Islip, Edward P. Romaine of Brookhaven and Richard Schaffer of Babylon said the state should step in to help homeowners who don't qualify for FEMA's Individual Assistance Program, which provides aid to homeowners affected by natural disasters.

"We implore you to show us exactly what government should be all about -- helping people in need," the supervisors wrote.

Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said the governor is awaiting a report from FEMA before deciding whether to request federal assistance. She said the state and FEMA "are continuing to work together to assess damage."

Caetano said a FEMA inspection team is "crunching the numbers" to decide whether residents qualify. A determination is expected "sooner rather than later," he said.

FEMA considers monetary damages, the number of homes affected and the percentage of homes lacking flood insurance to determine aid eligibility, he said.

Croci said many residents affected by the floods "have no way to repair their homes and get back into their lives."

"I know that it's possible for FEMA to be able to help us, with the White House's support and the governor's support," he said in an interview. "I'm just hoping they can help."

Bellone said in a statement the storm "places an unmanageable financial burden on our residents. They deserve government support . . ."

With Sophia Chang

Latest Long Island News