A press release from Schumer stated that the Sandy relief package Congress passed in January provided $16 billon in CDBG funding, and less than $6 billion has been spent to date.
HUD has picked 10 design teams as part of its Rebuild by Design program to draw up post-Sandy rebuilding plans, according to Schumer. He said that several teams should be directed to develop a comprehensive plan for Nassau. He also listed a handful of specific projects to which he believes HUD should dedicate CDBG funds.
“First and foremost, we want to make sure they come up with a plan to deal with the flooding that came up from the sewers in Merrick, in Freeport, in Oceanside,” he said. “We need tidal check valves, we may need catch basins with pumps, we may need a way to restructure sewage so it can’t back up on streets like it did here.
“We need a comprehensive plan for the Five Towns,” Schumer continued. “There was recurring flooding, for instance, on Meadow Lane and Margret Road in Lawrence. We need to harden the dike at the Isle of Wight [in Lawrence] that was breached during Sandy.”
Schumer said it would be important for HUD’s design teams to work in partnership with elected officials, like the Nassau County executive and local legislators, as well as planning and building experts.
John Cameron Jr., chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, joined Schumer in the Lonni Lane driveway of Merrick homeowner Steven Zalewski, who said his home was mostly spared from Sandy’s wrath, though a family car parked at the curb was destroyed when it was inundated with four feet of saltwater.
Cameron and Schumer said there could be opportunities for community input onwhich projects should receive CDBG funding. “Communities such as Merrick are involved in the Community Reconstruction Zone program, and there are 13 such plans in Nassau County and eight in Suffolk County where the shoreline communities are actually planning for future resiliency,” Cameron said. “Those programs are just starting. It’s an eight-month planning process.”