After Danny Ehrick’s home flooded in Hurricane Sandy, the 11-year resident of Freeport immediately cleaned his tools. Ehrick said he knew he would need them to gut the first floor of his canal-front home on Florence Avenue.
In the weeks after the storm, Ehrick recalled, he thought about what he could do to minimize damage in the event of another such tempest. He realized he needed to elevate his home. “I wasn’t going to just patch up the damage and allow Mother Nature to turn my life upside down again,” he said. “Instead, I wanted to make my home stronger with the next storm in mind.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo encouraged Long Islanders to consider Ehrick’s plan when Cuomo announced the state’s optional home elevation program at a July 30 news conference at Ehrick’s home.
Cuomo said that homeowners across Long Island would now be eligible to have the cost of elevating their homes reimbursed by the state if they live in the 100-year flood plain, or if the Federal Emergency Management Agency has certified their home as a repeated loss. Noting that 6,500 Long Island homes lie within the flood plain, Cuomo said that residents in this special zone should consider raising their houses, because Sandy will likely not be the last time the area is hit by extreme weather.
“Don’t assume Sandy isn’t going to revisit, even if it is by a different name,” he said. “I would assume the opposite, and it is our challenge to be better prepared. Sandy was a point in time that calls for us to readjust and re-evaluate what we’re doing, how we develop and how we build.”
Cuomo explained that, in his 3½-year tenure as governor, he has seen 11 federally declared weather disasters in New York — more than his father, Mario, experienced in his 12 years leading the state. He attributed the increase to changing weather patterns, which he urged those living near the shore to think about when considering elevating their homes.
Residents should call (855) NYS-Sandy to find out if they are eligible for reimbursement. Cuomo noted that the program includes those whose homes were less than 50 percent damaged in Sandy and were therefore not required by FEMA to raise or demolish them in order to receive aid.