Archive for the tag 'fema'

Source: Google Maps

The home on Ford Street that Joseph McClam claimed he lived in. (Source: Google Maps)

Federal agents busted an alleged fraudster on charges of stealing thousands in relief funds from FEMA when he falsely claimed to have lived in Sheepshead Bay when Superstorm Sandy struck last year. According to the criminal complaint, Joseph McClam said he was living at 2798 Ford Street when Sandy rolled through, when he had actually been been living in North Carolina.

McClam, 52, collected more than $32,000 from the government by claiming that the Ford Street home was his primary residence and suffered damage from Sandy. According to investigators, though, McClam, who owned the Ford Street residence, rented the building to various tenants until a fire heavily damaged the structure in 2010, leaving the building uninhabited and in a state of disrepair for more than two years before Sandy. Now living in North Carolina, he allegedly set up a fake New York mailing address when filing claims with the FEMA website for the purposes of soliciting relief funds.

Following an initial FEMA inspection, during which McClam was present, McClam received the maximum payout possible, $29,952 for home repair and $2,948 for rental assistance. According to prosecutors, McClam told FEMA inspectors that he had been living in the basement apartment of the structure while it was being renovated. But, prosecutors say, McClam hadn’t paid his water bill since 2009 and hadn’t had a Con Edison electric account open for the building since the fire struck in 2010 – making it an unlikely residence.

Secondary residences affected by Superstorm Sandy are not entitled to FEMA grants. Instead they are categorized as a business by the government, and homeowners were instructed to apply for Small Business Administration loans to cover the repair.

According to a Daily News report, McClam is a singer in a Motown cover band and was released on $50,000 bail. His lawyer provided no comment following his release.

Source: aresauburn via flickr

Source: aresauburn via flickr

Senator Charles Schumer sent a message to anxious New Yorkers, still waiting to receive repairs and funds for their Superstorm Sandy devastated homes: the money is coming. Newsday is reporting that Schumer promised that the city will receive $6.3 billion in aid in 2014, a figure that will hopefully address the cash shortages for the Sandy-related projects of 2013.

Last week, we reported that city officials with the Bloomberg administration were worried that the “Build it Back” program was short about $1.9 billion. Schumer is now declaring that in 2014, of the $6.3 billion heading the city’s way, $1.4 billion will be used directly for homeowners affected by Sandy, nearly covering the shortage. Newsday reported on comments made by Schumer at a press conference promising the flow of federal dollars and acknowledged the hiccups in the process:

“The spigot is now open,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference in Manhattan. “A year from now, people will feel a whole lot better about the Sandy process than they do today.”

He acknowledged frustration with the pace of spending this year, blaming red tape and the need to establish new programs to disburse the funds. “It should’ve been quicker,” he said.

NBC News reported more fully on the money breakdown:

He said $2.5 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will go to New York communities in 2014 to pay for permanent projects as well as reimbursement for repairs already done.

Additionally, Schumer expects at least $1.5 billion in storm-related transportation projects in New York to receive funding.

Smaller pots of money will go to fund coastal protection projects, green infrastructure and health-related projects.

Schumer said another $207 million will be allocated to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Manhattan.

If Schumer’s words prove true, it looks like Sheepshead Bay could expect a good year come 2014. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Source: FEMA via nytimes

Source: FEMA via nytimes

As the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy draws near, homeowners living along the shores are staring down another potential catastrophe, skyrocketing insurance rates. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that if coastal homeowners don’t begin the costly enterprise of elevating their homes, their coastal flood insurance premiums could increase by a whopping 500 percent.

We first reported on the possibly of drastically increased insurance rates in January when FEMA expanded the flood zone lines for the first time since 1983. According to estimates, a $250,000 home with a ground floor four feet below sea level will have to pay an eye-popping $9,500 a year in flood insurance. If the owners manage to (expensively) hoist that home three feet above the flood line will only have to pay $427 a year.

The Journal is reporting that approximately 30,000 homes, now located in the redrawn FEMA flood zone lines, could be faced with paying the high rates in two years time. Many of these homes are owned by middle-class residents and the new rates represent a punishing blow to people already hammered by the winds of Sandy last year.

For its part, FEMA declared that they will undertake an affordability study to measure the economic impact of their redrawn lines. The Journal is reporting that their study will take two years to complete and cost taxpayers $1.5 million to conduct.

In the meantime, senators in Washington are rallying for their constituents, calling for delays to the rate increases until the problem can be fairly addressed. The increased rates are the result of a law, called the Biggert-Waters Act, passed just months before Superstorm Sandy struck. The law renewed the federal flood insurance program, but sought to cut subsidies to the program and force homeowners to pay the rates that reflected the actual risk of living near the water. It was proposed in response to years of concern that the flood insurance program spent taxpayer’s dollars to rebuild vacation homes for the wealthy.

But in New York City, most of the homes in the flood zone were primary residences of middle-class families, unexpected victims of the new law, which passed with support from New York senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Now Schumer and Gillibrand, as well as other supporters of the Biggert-Waters Act, are scrambling to delay the increases, and there appears to be some support from FEMA as well.

In an appearance before the Senate last month, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate said the U.S. should stop subsidizing risk for new construction, businesses and secondary homes. “But I think we need to look at affordability people for who live there, look at how we can mitigate their risk,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, the Californian who co-sponsored the Biggert-Waters Act, was seeking to delay its implementation, saying in a news release that she didn’t intend for homeowners to face “outrageous” premiums.

Although FEMA says some property owners who lift structures above flood plains could see their insurance rates drop, the Biggert-Waters Act has sparked protests in at least nine states.

Photo by Erica Sherman

The following is an unedited press release from the offices of Senator Charles Schumer:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on FEMA to issue a clear and immediate ruling that extends the statute of limitations for Sandy victims to challenge their insurance companies in court for shortchanging them on an award amount. Under FEMA’s current guidelines, families have only one year from the date they received the “first” written “denial,” or insufficient check, to challenge the amount in court. That day is rapidly approaching, as some homeowners received their first response within months of the storm. In many cases, those homeowners are still submitting documentation and proof to insurance companies.  FEMA’s current policy ensures many homeowners lose the option to take civil action even before they are done negotiating with the insurance companies.  Schumer was joined on his letter by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Schumer said FEMA should not start the clock on the one-year statute of limitations period to pursue civil action until all administrative appeals have been completed and the homeowner has received a final determination the insurer.  That would have the effect of giving sandy victims an additional 18 months or more to hold accountable insurance companies.  This is particularly important because of how complex the rebuilding process has been – a homeowners needs are constantly changing, and insurance companies have shown themselves reluctant to provide a fair amount.

“This is about fairness, due process and common sense. Beginning the clock at the first denial of a claim – instead of the final denial – makes no sense, and necessarily robs many aggrieved homeowners from holding accountable insurance companies that have shortchanged them on what they are owed – and need – to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy,” said Schumer.  “FEMA should clarify the deadline so that Sandy victims can finish negotiating their claims before they are forced into court, where they will likely get less money and incur greater expenses. This is a win-win that will allow homeowners to better access the money they are owed without forcing them to file premature and unnecessary court claims.”

“Sandy-impacted homeowners who suffered damages from the storm are slowly piecing their lives back together and deserve access to fair policies that make all resources available,” said Gillibrand. “Struggling families must be given the opportunity to fully exhaust their appeals without risking their right to file suit. I urge FEMA to heed our call to assist New Yorkers through this process.”

“The disaster relief clinic at Touro Law Center has been on the front lines helping Superstorm Sandy victims for the past year – and we know firsthand how much help and assistance is still needed,” said Touro Law Center Dean Patricia Salkin.  “Touro Law Center thanks Senator Schumer for taking action so that we make sure thousands of Sandy victims won’t be victimized again by complicated deadlines.”

“The one-year deadline to file suit is connected with the process for presenting a claim under the flood policy, which FEMA extended to 18 months in order to protect thousands of Sandy-affected households.  This clarification will provide everyone with more time to find solutions and keep many out of federal court,” said Benjamin Rajotte, Director of the Disaster Law Clinic at Touro Law.

FEMA’s policy on the statute of limitations is particularly puzzling because FEMA granted Sandy-affected households an extension until April 29, 2014 to submit supporting documents to their insurance companies – such documents are called “proof of loss.”  Effectively the proof of loss allows households to present their flood insurance claims for the full amount they believe is owed.  This extension was designed to address the widespread and catastrophic losses that thousands of households have suffered, combined with the unprecedented volume of claims handling and demand for experts to value these losses.  This proof of loss extension was particularly important because many families are still trying to assess how much their insurance companies owe them, including families who are still displaced as a result of the storm.

But while the proof of loss deadline as extended, FEMA has not done the same for the statute of limitations of taking insurance companies to court if, in the end, the insurance check is insufficient.  This is because FEMA appears to maintain that the one-year limitations period in which to file suit starts from the “first” written “denial” from the insurer, and it has since indicated that this denial may be based exclusively on the report made by the insurer’s own insurance adjuster without any documentation from the household.   This could create a situation where you are still allowed to submit evidence, but not allowed to sue in a court if the claim doesn’t come back at a sufficient amount.

“In many cases, these so-called first denials are made by poorly trained adjusters, who work for the insurance companies and get little-to-no input from impacted homeowners. They put the homeowner behind the eight-ball just as they are struggling to cope with massive damage, trying to get their lives back together – and understating a very complicated flood insurance process. It is inherently unfair and we need to rectify that,” said Schumer.

FEMA has made this argument in previous disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.   Nowhere in the policy, nor in the controlling statute, nor in the regulation does it say that the period to file suit starts from the “first” denial on a claim that has not even been fully presented by the household through the policy’s required proof of loss process.  This is very problematic in Sandy cases which involve extensive property loss, forcing homeowners to document various aspects of their storm-damaged homes and belongings with numerous contractors and insurance adjusters at multiple points in time.   A “denial” at any one point in time, before households even submit all of their paperwork, starts the clock.  There is an obvious problem if the one-year deadline to file suit expires before the time necessary to fully present the claim.  This interpretation deprives policyholders of the indemnification they are due.

nyrising

Nearly 100 neighbors joined government officials and consultants to share their local expertise and draw up storm resiliency plans on Monday, kicking off the first in a slate of workshops sponsored by New York State to give locals a say in recovery and resiliency initiatives.

The workshops are the most public stage to-date of a $750 million initiative announced in July by Governor Andrew Cuomo, called New York Rising, aimed at recruiting locals in identifying key community assets and their thoughts on the best way to protect them from future disasters. The officials and consultants have had several private meetings with local committees of stakeholders and activists, who drew up a roster of initial proposals. The meetings – two of which were held locally this week, in Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach – then turned to the broader public to add more input and refine the plan.

One thing organizers sought to make clear is that this wasn’t a plan about rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy, but a broader community development plan seeking to strengthen the neighborhood’s residential and economic bases from future disasters.

“It’s not a Build it Back program. It’s not about insurance. It’s not about FEMA. It’s about the future of our communities,” said Jim Donovan, co-chair of the NY Rising Reconstruction Committee for Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach. “The most important thing is the future, the children, the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren. Where are they going to live? How do we make our community more sustainable, more resilient? That’s what this whole committee is about.”

After running through a presentation, the attendees split up into half a dozen different groups and received extra large maps of Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach. The maps were already marked with known assets including schools, infrastructure, hospitals and more, and the residents were asked to add anything they felt were important assets that planners should know about. They added historical relics like the Ocean Avenue footbridge, and problematic infrastructure like outdated sewage lines and below-street-level housing.

The sewage line were of particular concern for most in the room, and although the groups operated independently every group added it to the map.

“Before the tsunami came out of Sheepshead Bay [during Sandy], it came out of the sewers. The water came up the pipes and into our houses. And then the tsunami came,” bellowed one man during the meeting.

The groups also began putting forward their own proposals, including key locations for flood gates, utility infrastructure in need of elevation and more.

In addition to resiliency proposals, the groups were tasked with creating a wishlist for broader community development, including restoring the “nautical uniqueness” of the area, boosting tourism through marketing campaigns and weekend express trains, and stronger zoning laws that would prevent over-development in areas like the bungalow communities.

Although some attendees were excited by the visions put forward, others were left wondering what it had to do with storm resiliency.

“It’s a meeting to get rid of stress, that’s all it is,” said Lake Avenue resident Bob Haggerty.

Another attendee, who left in the middle of the meeting, was more succinct:

“What kind of crap is this?” she said.

Even the organizers of the meeting acknowledged that there were still many more obstacles to overcome before the plans could be put in place. The consultants hired by the state will review the proposals, and prioritize them in order of need, cost and feasibility.

The group will come out with a draft report on October 28, the one year anniversary of the storm. In November, a second public meeting will be held for more public input, and the final plan will be issued in March.

At that point, there’s little plan in place for enacting the proposals laid out. Representatives from the Department of State, which is overseeing the initiative, acknowledged that there is not yet funding for many of the ideas, and they hope to work with city agencies on the key infrastructure proposals.

Beyond that, the consultants are charged with identifying funding sources for realizing the “wishlist” items that the community has prioritized.

If you were unable to attend and would like to provide input, visit http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/community/gerritsen-beach-and-sheepshead-bay and submit your comments via the yellow contact button on the right.

You can also join the conversation using the hashtag #NYRising on Twitter (@NYStormRecovery). Follow the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program on Facebook (NYStormRecovery) or go to www.stormrecovery.ny.gov. For more information, email info@stormrecovery.ny.gov.

Sheepshead Bay, post-Sandy. Source: U.S. Coast Guard, via the Office of Response and Restoration

Sheepshead Bay, post-Sandy. Source: U.S. Coast Guard, via the Office of Response and Restoration

New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program invites the community to provide input to the Sheepshead Bay/Gerritsen Beach NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan.

There will be two consecutive meeting dates at different locations, either of which residents are invited to attend:

  • Monday, October 7 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Waterford on the Bay, 2900 Bragg Street
  • Tuesday, October 8 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Public School 277, 2529 Gerritsen Avenue

During the meeting you will:

  • Hear about the program and how it can help your community.
  • Provide input to the community’s vision for the future to increase resilience post-Sandy.
  • Tell the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program what issues you would like addressed in the recovery and mitigation plan.

If you are unable to attend and would like to provide input, visit http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/community/gerritsen-beach-and-sheepshead-bay and submit your comments via the yellow contact button on the right.

You can also join the conversation using the hashtag #NYRising on Twitter (@NYStormRecovery). Follow the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program on Facebook (NYStormRecovery) or go to www.stormrecovery.ny.gov. For more information, email info@stormrecovery.ny.gov.

buildback

Build It Back

The City is extending the registration date for its Build it Back initiative to make sure that all eligible Superstorm Sandy storm victims have a chance to partake in the program. According to a press release, the program has been extended until October 31.

Below is information about the program and details with links on how to apply before registration ends on October 31:

“With an influx of new registrants in the past two weeks, we are extending the deadline so that more New Yorkers have the opportunity to sign up for NYC Build it Back,” said Director Gair. “Registering online at www.nyc.gov or by calling 311 is easy and takes only a few minutes. I also want to thank all of the elected officials and organizations, who have joined us throughout this process, for their advocacy on behalf of New Yorkers impacted by this storm.”
NYC Build it Back is currently funded with approximately $648 million in Federal disaster recovery funds passed by Congress earlier this year, which included an initial $1.77 billion Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery allocation through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. NYC Build it Back was created to help New Yorkers still recovering from the storm return to permanent, sustainable housing through various options, including rebuilding and reimbursing for eligible out-of-pocket repair expenses.
After the initial registration, NYC Build it Back registrants meet with a Housing Recovery Specialist to help them complete the application process. Once eligibility is reviewed and confirmed, a visit will be scheduled to the registrant’s home to evaluate the damage and determine what repairs may need to be completed, including elevating homes when necessary. The registrant may then be presented with options that include:
•             Repair: A NYC Build it Back professional contractor can help eligible participants whose homes require minor to moderate repairs. Repairs to homes that have been substantially damaged, as defined by the NYC Build Code, would include elevation to at least two feet higher than the most recent FEMA flood maps. Registrants also have the option of selecting their own contractor within Federal and program guidelines.
•             Rebuild: If a home is substantially damaged and needs to be rebuilt, qualifying participants can choose a home model that is designed specifically for their community, uses the best available resiliency standards and is designed by a NYC Build it Back developer. Alternatively, registrants can choose their own architect and contractor to develop and build their homes within Federal and program guidelines.
•             Reimbursement: The City can also help participants recover eligible out-of-pocket costs for minor repairs already made to their homes that satisfy all Department of Housing and Urban Development and other requirements.
•             Acquisition: Some owners may want to voluntarily sell their homes and in some cases, the City will be able to work with communities to strategically redevelop these properties in a smarter, more resilient way. Housing Recovery Specialists will be able to explain these options.
NYC Build it Back complements the assistance already provided by FEMA, private insurance claims and other sources. Homeowners, landlords and cooperative and condominium owners with primary residences in the five boroughs are encouraged to apply to find out how they may be eligible for the program. Assistance will also be made available to qualifying low income and still displaced renters.
For more information or to register for the program, call 311 or www nyc.gov.
NYC Build it Back Registrations by Borough as of September 30th:
•             Manhattan: 236
•             Bronx: 193
•             Brooklyn: 6,974
•             Queens: 9,409
•             Staten Island: 4,981
About the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations
The Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations is committed to planning and implementing innovative and effective solutions to the housing needs caused by Hurricane Sandy. To this end, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Operations created and will administer NYC Build it Back, a program to assist residents in the five boroughs whose primary homes were damaged by the storm. Homeowners, landlords and tenants affected by Sandy who still have unmet housing needs are urged to register for NYC Build it Back by calling 311 and ask for NYC Build it Back or going to www.nyc.gov/builditback.
Marty Golden, Photo By Erica Sherman

Marty Golden, (Photo By Erica Sherman)

State Senator Marty Golden is hosting a town hall meeting tomorrow night for people in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach who were affected by Superstorm Sandy. Brooklyn News is reporting that Golden has invited a slew of officials representing various city, state and federal agencies to interact with attendees and answer questions relating to the continuing recovery effort.

Brooklyn News listed the agencies that the officials will be culled from as well as Golden’s remarks encouraging residents affected by Sandy to make it to the meeting:

Senator Golden will welcome officials from Build It Back, National Flood Insurance Program, Small Business Administration, The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Financial Services, The Army Corps of Engineers, The New York City Department of Buildings, The Health Department, City of New York, The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and The New York City Department of Transportation.

“Almost 11 months after Hurricane Sandy, many residents still need help with rebuilding, insurance, and getting back on their feet,” said Senator Golden (R-C-I). “I urge all residents of my district who are still facing Hurricane related issues to come to this meeting and take advantage of all the different agencies present. By working together, we can make sure that all those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy get their lives and homes back to normal.”

The meeting is schedule for tomorrow, September 25, at 7 p.m. at Public School 277 located at 2529 Gerritsen Avenue.

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a common theme circulating in the social and political atmosphere has been one of defiance. The message has been to rebuild and redevelop, even in the most vulnerable coastal communities. A report in Mother Jones is arguing that the attitude of continually trying to defy nature is costly, risky and could very well backfire despite billions in planned improvements.

In their analysis, Mother Jones target comments made by prominent political leaders and suggest that “retreating” from the coastline might be a more a realistic option:

Retreat needs to be considered not as a defeatist last-resort, but as proactive strategy needed in some places.

Take New York City, for example, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed 257 initiatives to be pursued over the next 10 years at an estimated $20 billion. He has repeatedly emphasized that the city “will not retreat from the waterfront.” But it will be hard to stand by this categorical commitment as sea levels continue to rise.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $400 million home-buyout program, of which a meager $170 million has been HUD-approved. Only homes with damage more than 50 percent of their value are eligible. The Oak Beach community in Staten Island has applied as a pilot program for a community-based buyout, but hasn’t yet been approved. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is encouraging rapid rebuilding while also proposing a limited buyout program. But with no funding set aside for it, he has made clear he prefers to rebuild rather than retreat.

The report lays out the case that rising flood insurance premiums coupled with expensive new building regulations laid out by FEMA create unfavorable options for homeowners trying to live in coastal communities. Previously, we had reported on the new flood lines drawn by FEMA that will drastically increase costs for homeowners in vulnerable areas. For example, if you have a $250,000 home with a ground floor four feet below sea level, and cannot meet FEMA’s new building regulations, you may have to pay $9,500 a year in flood insurance. By comparison, a home hoisted three feet above the flood line will only have to pay $427 a year, but the cost of doing so will be expensive.

It is because of these reasons that the Mother Jones report is advocating other options like buyouts, curtailing development and fixing the infrastructure:

These options should include support for buyouts in mid-Atlantic communities, at least for coastal and estuary locations that are either at elevations of ten feet or less above the local mean higher high tide or 5 feet above the latest mapped FEMA 1 percent per year base flood elevations, whichever is higher. Once buyouts at these elevations are secured, they should progress to higher elevations.

Disallow new residential development in those low-lying elevations unless it is flood-adapted (safely moored and floatable or substantially raised with raised or floodable utility connections). With urgency, local building codes need to be re-written to take this into account, since those specifications don’t yet exist.

Know that flood-protective structures—sea gates, levees, or walls—have limits. To start, sea levels will inevitably surpass their finite design heights. But before that ever happens, they introduce their own collateral hazards. A barrier system meant to protect an estuary or river with considerable discharge could flood communities behind the protective systems.

Develop a set of land-use priorities. Infrastructure, including transportation networks, sewage treatment plants, solid waste facilities, energy supply and distribution systems, utilities, and public health facilities demand the highest priorities for adaptation, whether by protectionaccommodation (some utility distribution systems could be made submergible; other system elements could be raised or made floatable); or by retreat to higher ground. In any case, for this essential infrastructure, higher flood standards need to be considered (such as the 0.2%/year flood elevations), and margins for sea level rise must be added that are in a time horizon commensurate with the expected lifetime of the facility itself. New rights of way will need to be relocated from low-lying areas to higher elevations.

The report even goes as far to suggest creating alternatives to subway systems, which they believe are too vulnerable to constant predicted future flooding, calling for an overhaul of the century old rail system.

Interesting stuff. Whether or not you accept the recommendations in this report, the critical point is that the city is at a crossroads with billions of federal dollars to spend on potential solutions. It is up to our political leaders, engineers and city planners to make sure that they are covering every angle of the recovery process and make decisions that mitigate the full impact of future natural disasters.

Source: 10000birds.com

Source: 10000birds.com

The federal government is pumping millions of dollars into the restoration of Jamaica Bay following the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy. But some local residents who live nearby are growing angry that their needs are being ignored. A report by Reuters is noting that local residents, fed up with updated post-storm building codes and the attached fees, have grown resentful of all the dollars pouring into the nature reserve.

Federal and city financial activity at Jamaica Bay is soaring in recent months. In August, we reported that the Department of the Interior and the National Parks Service is spearheading an effort to make parks located near urban environments, like Jamaica Bay, into major hotspots for outdoors activity. The hope of the effort is to put places like Jamaica Bay on par with national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. We also reported on the formation of an ambitious new multi-million dollar research project that will center around the natural storm defense barriers of Jamaica Bay, which include tidal wetlands, salt marshes and dunes. The goal of this project is to replicate these natural barriers in other areas.

According to the Reuters report, all of this activity is brewing anger in the surrounding Jamaica Bay community:

As restoration projects at Jamaica Bay get underway, using volunteer help and outside funding, they are stirring feelings of resentment among some local residents.

They say they have more pressing concerns than restoring the bay and protecting against future storm surges. Private homes and commercial buildings in the area remain damaged. Some residents are struggling to meet new Federal Emergency Management Agency building codes, access money for repairs and even determine if their home is up to code. Private inspections “can cost $500-600 or more for a single family dwelling,” [Hilarie] Williams said.

For community members, the convoluted process to access funds feeds confusion and resentment about the bay restoration project. While most community members are looking for compensation for their losses, they see money going instead to the restoration of the bay.

Still, many Jamaica Bay residents know that living by the water brings risks, including Don Riepe, the Northeast Chapter Director of the American Littoral Society and Broad Channel resident:

“I was always aware that [a storm like Sandy had the ] potential of happening,” he said. “It wasn’t a great surprise to me.” In four or five previous storms he lost heat or power “but nothing like Sandy. I lost the heat, the electricity, all the furniture” this time, he said.

Riepe sees his neighbors responding in a variety of ways – jacking up small houses in some cases, rebuilding and hoping for the rest or simply leaving for good.

But the story of Broad Channel and other communities in the area should be a wakeup call to other vulnerable coastal regions, he says.

“We’ve built in areas we shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have a house on the bay, or if I do I should be prepared to lose it,” Riepe says.”You’re living on the bay, you take the risks.”

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