Greenburgh residents still waiting on FEMA funding 2 years after Hurricane Ida

Six homeowners are waiting on FEMA to approve an application to raise their homes before they attempt to rebuild. They said they can't move back in until that work is done out of fears that could lose everything again during the next storm and to maximize the flood insurance money they secured to rebuild.

Jonathan Gordon

Sep 7, 2023, 10:56 PM

Updated 314 days ago

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Some residents in Elmsford still have not moved back into their homes two years after the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused catastrophic flooding in their neighborhood.
"It's a helpless feeling because we just continue to wait," said Babbit Court homeowner Jeannette Rodriguez.
Six homeowners are waiting on FEMA to approve an application to raise their homes before they attempt to rebuild. They said they can't move back in until that work is done out of fears that could lose everything again during the next storm and to maximize the flood insurance money they secured to rebuild.
"It has been extremely difficult. It has been very, very, very hard in trying to budget and figure out how we're getting by on a month-to-month basis," said Rodriguez.
They are still on the hook for property taxes, their mortgages, and the cost of their temporary living situation after the federal rental assistance ended earlier this year.
"It is really, very expensive," said Babbitt Court homeowner Anandi Soto.
According to Greenburgh officials, the town submitted a Hazard Mitigation Grant application with the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services last spring to elevate six homes on Babbitt Court along the Saw Mill River.
Town officials were expecting to hear back this spring but did not.
The entire cost of the project is projected to be about $1.5 million with the federal government covering $1.3 million and the rest picked up by the town.
A spokesperson for the state said the town's application was reviewed and submitted to FEMA for its approval.
A spokesperson for FEMA followed up on News 12's inquiries and said the project is undergoing an environmental and historic preservation review. The federal agency is still looking at comments made during a public notice period last month.
FEMA did not offer a timeline for when the town and its residents could receive a decision.
"It's been a very long time. Two years is a long time," said Soto.
According to a letter from the town Deputy Commissioner of Public Works given to News 12, the process of issuing work bids, project design, and finalizing the process will take eight to nine months after the funds are made available if they're approved.
As of now the town projects construction to take an additional five to six months.
"I just want to go home. I just want to go home," said Rodriguez.
In the meantime, homeowners said bringing back rental assistance to cover the extra costs of living would make all of the difference.
New York Assemblywoman MaryJane Shimsky presented a bill last session called the 'Climate Change Property Tax Assessment Relief Act.' The bill would provide tax relief to homeowners whose home was severely damaged by extreme weather.
The bill didn't make it out of committee last session but a spokesperson for Shimsky's office said the bill is being revised to streamline the tax assessment component and is expected to be reintroduced during the new session in January.


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