As many South Shore residents continue to pick up the pieces 19 months after Superstorm Sandy, county officials announced a bipartisan agreement to approve $14.4 million in borrowing to re-establish its Clean and Seed program.
The county declared a state of emergency two weeks after Sandy for homes on North Boulevard, in East Rockaway, and Barnes Avenue, in Baldwin, where there were breaches in sewer mains, causing sewage to bubble up into the surrounding streets and houses. The county established the Clean and Seed program last year, to remove toxins from lawns in those neighborhoods and others across the county, with $2 million in capital funding, but after assisting 200 homeowners, it ran out of money. According to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, there are currently 1,494 homes still on the program’s list.
The county launched a separate interior home cleaning program for sewage-stricken homes in 2012.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle came out in favor of the borrowing plan after it was passed in committee sessions earlier this month. The funding was unanimously approved on Monday by the full Legislature.
Shila Shah-Gavnoudias, commissioner of the county Department of Public Works, explained that after a homeowner requests to be part of the program, the property is assessed and, if it is approved, an outside firm strips the lawn and the top three inches of soil, puts down fresh soil and reseeds the lawn. A third party then inspects the work to make sure it has been done properly.
Legislator Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) said that the program was important, and that she was glad its restoration was approved by legislators on both sides of the aisle. “The grass seeds could care less about politics,” she said. “They’re much more concerned with sunshine and rain.”
At a press conference last week in front of East Rockaway Village Trustee Theresa Gaffney’s property on Franklin Street, which currently lies empty as she seeks funding to rebuild her home, the Legislature’s majority leader, Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), said she had mixed emotions.