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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Letter to the Editor
FEMA grant program won’t pay for work that was already started or completed

To the Editor:

I just read the article “Hundreds of Long Beach Homes Need to be Rebuilt” (March28-April 3) regarding people raising their homes. The article fails to address one key issue: the farce that is the supposed promise of money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

There has been much fanfare about HMGP and promises that money will be available to assist in rebuilding homes to comply with the current FEMA guidelines. What nobody is mentioning that HMGP won’t pay for any work that was already started or completed. FEMA must approve the project in advance and will reimburse the homeowner only after the work is done. It will not pay for completed mitigation work after the disaster declaration, even if it was done in total compliance with the New York State and FEMA building codes and not started until after the disaster declaration.

Tropical Storm Irene hit Long Beach on Aug. 8, 2011, and no funds have yet been awarded under the HMGP from that disaster declaration. So what are homeowners supposed to do? Wait years before they start to rebuild, for money that they may or may not be granted? The restriction on retroactive payments was waived after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

We need to urge all our lawmakers now to ask FEMA to make a commitment to people that it will waive the no retroactive payments rule, so that the rebuilding process can be expedited and encourage homeowners to rebuild better and stronger, knowing that they can at least apply for a grant in the future rather than waiting years to even start in hopes to get some reimbursement that may or not come in the end.

To download FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Unified Guidance, visit http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=4225 (see page 16, section D.2, Ineligible Activities).

Mark Cozine
Long Beach

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