Residents displaced by Hurricane Ida still waiting on funding

Residents on Babbitt Court in Elmsford say they can't begin to rebuild from the storm because they're waiting on the town to apply for FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant.

Jonathan Gordon

Apr 20, 2022, 12:43 AM

Updated 822 days ago

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Residents in one Westchester neighborhood are still out of their homes and out of luck after suffering damage from Hurricane Ida seven months ago.
Residents on Babbitt Court in Elmsford say they can't begin to rebuild from the storm because they're waiting on the town to apply for FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant.
The program isn't available to individual homeowners, instead, it provides funding to local governments to support hazard mitigation projects, according to the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
Money goes towards reducing the damage of future disasters.
Neighbors on Babbitt say they need the money to raise up their homes several feet to prevent flooding from the Saw Mill River.
The problem is the grant won't cover any work done before the money is approved, so residents are waiting for the town to apply on their behalf.
According to dozens of emails reviewed by News 12, resident Jeannette Rodriguez has been asking the town for help since September but hasn’t received any results.
"There are things you won't ever get back," says Rodriguez. ""I've been out of my house since September so you got the holidays and all the special occasions that I just don't get to do at home anymore."
The town board met with FEMA Tuesday about the next steps and plans to file the application by the June 1 deadline -- a timeline way too long for residents still living in hotels.
"This is much less expensive, it doesn't help as many people but the people who get their homes lifted don't have a problem," says Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.
In 2004, the Army Corps of Engineers raised seven homes on Babbitt Court to help residents avoid significant property damage.
Town officials say they've been in contact with state Homeland Security and FEMA to discuss grant opportunities and intentionally passed up the national grant competition because they felt they wouldn't meet the deadline and faced more funding project competition.
The most recent round of state-administered FEMA grant opportunities opened on March 1.
If approved, the grant will cover 90% of the costs, according to the state.
Thirty-nine homeowners in town have told officials they would like to have their homes raised but only six qualify, according to Feiner. Right now, the town says it is focused on raising three to six homes on Babbitt Court and will re-evaluate the other homes next year.
The town is reaching out to FEMA to see if residents who experience flooding in other parts of town can also apply for the grant, specifically residents near Troublesome Brook in Edgemont and Manhattan Brook in Fairview.
Their inclusion in the grant program may depend on if the town can conduct a flood risk study. County officials say the Westchester Storm Water Advisory Board received an application from Greenburgh late last month to fund the study. The County Planning Department is reviewing it and will make a recommendation at its meeting later this month. 


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