A year after Hurricane Sandy slammed the South Shore, wreaking destruction and upending lives, a committee the state created to help Bellmore and Merrick plan for future storms held its first “public engagement” meeting last week, and 40 or so residents shared their thoughts on what steps the state should take to help with that planning.
In July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that his administration was launching the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, which set aside more than $750 million in federal funding for dozens of communities across Long Island and upstate New York to rebuild after Tropical Storms Irene and Lee and Superstorm Sandy.
New York Rising allocates money to affected communities based on “FEMA-assessed damage levels,” according to a Cuomo press release, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Merrick is eligible to receive $6.4 million, and Bellmore, nearly $5.67 million. A planning committee for Bellmore-Merrick, comprising 12 residents whom state officials selected, will formulate a plan for state spending on “new infrastructure and other mitigation” in the coming months, according to Cuomo’s release.
The Bellmore-Merrick Planning Committee has held three meetings so far, the most recent on Oct. 24 at Shore Road School in south Bellmore. The school was an appropriate setting for a discussion of the risks the area’s infrastructure faces in future storms, having been flooded by Hurricane Sandy and sitting, as it does, across the street from a canal. Just up the block is the corner of Shore Road and Horace Court, major arteries in and out of one of south Bellmore’s two residential peninsulas, which regularly floods in unusually high tides or minor rainstorms.