Locals Share Sandy Concerns at Community Forum

Many people impacted by the storm packed into Bellmore's VFW hall to get some answers regarding storm damage and potentially elevating their homes due to Hurricane Sandy.

Areas represented in the crowd included Bellmore, Merrick, Wantagh and Freeport. Aside from Legis. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick, who hosted the program, representatives from FEMA, the Town of Hempstead and National Grid were on hand to answer questions.

"When I was in Bellmore, Merrick and Wantagh over the last number of weeks people told me that, since they had reiterative flooding issues, this is at least the second time that have had substantial damage, and they had some questions," Denenberg said. 

John Rottkamp, the commissioner of the TOH Buildings Department, told attendees  that all permit fees have been waived during this time of struggle. He also said that Town representatives have driven through damaged areas and dispersed forms that explained exactly how to proceed.

"Obviously, as we got further south, the damage was worse," he said. "Once you go south of Merrick Road, almost every home is affected. There's approximately 61,000 homes south of Merrick Road in the Town of Hempstead." 

Many on hand had questions regarding the Town's inspections and how to go about getting money to potentially elevate their home. 

"If you have flood insurance, you are allowed to get $30,000, up to $250,000, for the elevation of your home," Rebecca Furst, the Town's floodplain manager, said. "In order for you to obtain that money, the Town of Hempstead must perform a damage assessment to your house, saying that it's been substantially damaged."

Several locals also voiced displeasure with FEMA, as they have been denied aid to help with storm expenses.

Rosemarie Cappola-Smith said that her home in Merrick was deemed unlivable after it flooded for the third time. 

"I got a denial the next day," she said. "I was told my flood insurance would provide my living expenses." 

Cappola-Smith now has to pay for her mortgage, as well as a place to rent, while she continues to seek answers, she said.

Have you been denied aid and suffered substantial storm damage? Tell us in the comments below.

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