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Monday, May 25, 2015
Another FEMA forum grows heated
Residents express frustration over federal block grant restrictions
Alexandra Spychalsky
Homeowner Frank Conrad, right, asked Ice Arena worker Michael Raab a question at the May 1 forum.

For the second time in the six months since Hurricane Sandy devastated Long Beach, the city invited representatives from the nation’s disaster recovery agencies to a forum to address residents’ questions and concerns. And for the second time, residents were unsatisfied with the outcome.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the New York State Department of Financial Services and other agencies gathered at City Hall on May 1, along with roughly 300 residents, in what quickly turned into a heated and often disorganized forum.

The meeting was advertised as a way for residents to learn more about different sources of funding they may be eligible for, including Increased Cost of Compliance, Hazard Mitigation and Community Development Block Grants. The forum was a follow-up to an equally chaotic session in February. Agency representatives came armed with presentations, but were quickly drawn off task by angry residents who barraged them with questions on everything from problems with their insurance companies to elevating their homes.

“We came for answers, not to look at a handout,” one audience member shouted.

Block grant money may not come quickly

Residents made their frustration clear when they learned that $1.7 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program funding for New York may not be available as quickly as they had hoped. Lawmakers have lauded the block grant program as a more flexible source of funding, easier to attain than FEMA grants and SBA loans.

Michael Raab, a county employee that has been stationed at the Ice Arena, was merely there as a spectator, but said he was asked by city officials to take the microphone to help subdue the restless crowd. At the Ice Arena, Raab helps residents fill out the application for NY Rising, the state agency tasked with distributing recently released CDBG money, and he shared some of his knowledge, as well as his experience as a Sandy victim himself. He explained that the grant is based on the amount of aid an applicant has already received from FEMA, SBA, insurance or donations. The grants are intended only to supplement those aid sources, and to cover the “unmet needs” of home and business owners, Raab said.

Comments

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SamKinsleyRocks

That meeting was a complete waste of time. If they were smart, they're wait until they had more information so they could actually answer people's questions. Instead, they got pushed against a wall by a very angry crowd.

Shame on FEMA for their lack of preparedness. I'm not shocked. They are the biggest, most disorganized group of people I have met so far.

Thursday, May 9, 2013 | Report this
SamKinsleyRocks

*they'd not they're

Thursday, May 9, 2013 | Report this
Sandeep

“So if people don’t have flood insurance, are they going to be put ahead of us?” asked one resident.

I find that comment extremely selfish. First of all NYS rising prohibits folks with vacation homes etc from applying. It is mainly intended for primary residences and it considers income.

Widows and orphans and elderly folks are usually the ones with no mortgage. Large parts of Long Beach was put in a flood zone as recently as 2009. These folks were never asked to get flood insurance during the 30 years they had a mortgage, after mortgage was paid off and FEMA decided that flood insurance is required for folks with mortgages FEMA made no effort or attempt to get these folks to sign up. Why, cause FEMA insurance only charges 1/3 the actual cost. Every new costumer comes at a loss to FEMA, FEMA is mainly interested in FHA backed mortgage loans flood insurance. Yes uncle sam owes your mortgage and wants to make sure the underlying collateral is properly insured. FEMA even stated if all folks not only folks with FHA mortgages in high risk areas signed up for flood insurance it would bankrupt system. So in effect the Widows and orphans and elderly folks subsidize the folks with flood insurance.

Now a guy in this article who got paid 60k while widow next door got paid 31.9K is begrudging her one chance to get some money for her house.

Folks with flood insurance are not really Sandy Flood Victims. Usually they are victims of a bad adjuster, bad insurance company, contractors who overcharged or FEMA policies. Nothing to do with Sandy. My next door neighbor spent 110K on house and only got 70K and was complaining about his insurance. Meanwhile I saw Servepro in there doing a rip out for 15K, expensive Mold Remediation work done, top of the line cabinets being replaces as they got a little wet etc. That is what ran most of bill up to 110K, I think he could have easily got it done for 70K. He is also applying to these fund to get his 40K owed.

Folks with flood insurance and financial means should be volunteering to let the widows and ophans with no flood insurance to front of the line for whatever scraps they get.

Friday, May 10, 2013 | Report this
feegss

Hey jack Schnirrrrrmann, you are doing a real good job-lol! It is time for Long Beach to elect a mayor instead of a non-LB guy with an Ivy league degree who could not manage his way out of a paper bag....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | Report this
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