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Sunday, October 26, 2014
Still homeless with a mortgage
Sandy victims still in limbo
by Laura Schofer
photo by Laura Schofer
SLEEPLESS IN SEAFORD: Homes remain vacant almost a year after Sandy hit our shores.

Nearly one year after Superstorm Sandy, many residents are still not home, thanks to bureacratic red tape. Government funding earmarked to help Sandy victims rebuild homes remains in limbo, leaving homeowners angry and frustrated.

“It’s a constant battle,” said Stephen Conklin. He stood on the front steps of his damaged Seaford home with his wife Patricia at a press conference last week. “There has been so much paperwork but we’re still waiting...for money, for answers,” he said.

Nassau County Legislator David Denenberg, who called the press conference, said “the Conklins are not alone. There are probably 5,000 residents in Nassau County still out of their homes. This adds insult to injury. The state [which is charged with dispensing federal funds to hard-hit residents] needs to start paying out now.”

“Catch 22”

The Conklins have suffered numerous setbacks since the storm. Their home has suffered such extensive damage that Mr. Conklin is looking to tear it down, he said. But they don’t have the money to tear down and rebuild even though they paid their insurance premiums through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. “I’m a victim of the earth movement clause,” he said, “and my claim was denied.”

The earth movement clause states that damage caused by the movement of soil or earth – even if the movement is the result of flooding – is not eligible for coverage.

But Mr. Conklin thought he had other options – a low-cost loan through the SBA and money through the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, which is charged with the task of dispersing federal funds allotted to New York state for communities hit hardest by Sandy. Seaford is to receive $7,895,114 and Wantagh, $3,344,985. Residents, who may receive money for repairs up to $250,000, have been encouraged to submit applications to New York Rising regional offices such as the one that opened in Seaford in July.

More good news broke last week, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state would fully compensate homeowners for the repair costs of damage to their homes due to earth movement exclusion during Sandy. But no money has yet to reach homeowners

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