Temporary repair work on flood-damaged New York homes could begin within days, according to officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Teams of contractors paid by FEMA were in Long Island Monday, continuing to assess the damage at homes before they complete temporary repairs on electricity and heat. The aim is to make homes livable so residents can return even before major repairs are completed.
"Everyone wants to be home. The holidays are coming," said Theresa Connolly of Oceanside.
Connolly, her husband and teenage daughter have been forced to live in a nearby motel since floodwaters four feet high devastated their home.
"If someone can get the heat and hot water back in our home, maybe we can get home faster," said Connolly.
FEMA will cover the cost of all repairs, up to $10,000. The unique program was needed, officials said, because of a lack of temporary housing in the New York area.
"We need to turn people's own homes into temporary shelters," said Terry Winters of FEMA.
Permanent repairs could take much longer.
In Island Park, as Matt and Yvonne Graci watched plumbers install a new boiler for their home, the couple said work on their damaged home might not be completed until Christmas.
"Thanksgiving is shot," said Matt Graci. "Hopefully Christmas will be the end of it."
For information on FEMA's STEP program, call 888-684-4267.