What to Know
- FEMA inspectors this week reviewed and evaluated damage assessments that were done right after Superstorm Sandy
- Homeowners on the south shore of Nassau County are still dealing with lingering issues seven years after the storm
- Some homeowners, who purchased renovated homes post-Sandy, are being told by the town that they need to elevate
Inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spent this week in the Town of Hempstead, reviewing and evaluating the damage assessments that were done right after Superstorm Sandy.
Nearly seven years after the devastating storm, homeowners on the south shore of Nassau County are still dealing with lingering issues related to the storm. Some homeowners, who purchased renovated homes post-Sandy, are being told by the town that they need to elevate.
The I-Team revealed this was happening because the Hempstead building department failed to properly assess 13,000 properties in the flood zone for substantial damage. If your home is substantially damaged, the town could order you to elevate your house.
FEMA Region II director, Michael Moriarty said his inspectors looked at building and elevation permits, inspected homes in the flood plain and learned more about the building department process.
We asked if there is room for improvement.
“Certainly in the substantial damage area, there could have been better information passed at the time in the weeks and months after Sandy,” replies Moriarty.
Moriarty was also critical of the building department’s post-storm practice of not performing substantial damage assessments until homeowners applied for repair permits. Many did not apply for permits, leaving Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, who was not in office during the storm, fearful that many homes remain non-compliant with new flood regulations.
“We are looking to FEMA to make sure what happened after Sandy never happens again,” explained Gillen. “And there’s a more organized system letting homeowners know.”
Megan and Carlos Moran said it was an uphill battle with their insurance company to get enough money to rebuild. Sandy brought five feet of water into their one story East Rockaway home and destroyed nearly everything. Moran later found out her house was flagged as possibly substantially damaged, but she did not learn from the Town of Hempstead.
“Where did these assessments end up? Did they just get stuck in a drawer? I don’t understand why the homeowners didn’t know about it?”
Gillen says she is working with FEMA to establish an appeals process where homeowners can contest their elevation orders they have received from the Building Department. If successfully appealed, homeowners could save themselves the headache and expense of elevating.