More than 100 of Nassau’s South Shore residents, still displaced after superstorm Sandy destroyed their homes, rallied in Mineola today to let the state and federal government know they want the rebuilding money they’re due – today.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano stood with the crowd, more than one year after the storm, vowing to continue the fight for their homeowners’ reimbursement from FEMA and NY Rising – a program the crowd says has completely failed them.
Beating on conga drums and chanting “Show Us the Money,” the residents who came from Island Park, Long Beach and Freeport, demanded the government release the millions of dollars in disaster recovery funds it has for them, so they can repair their houses and get back home.
Tearful victims, who continue to pay mortgages on homes they cant live in, as well as rent on places in which they’re staying, told emotional stories about losing their personal possessions and missing holiday celebrations in their own homes.
“We marched on Washington before to get the necessary money approved, and we’ll do it again if we have to, to get that money to you – the homeowners,” Mangano said. “We can’t rest until every resident is back in their homes.”
In August, Mangano gathered with the same grassroots group of impacted residents, to demand that FEMA eliminate the Earth Movement exclusion in the National Flood Insurance Plan – which was clearly contradictory to its mission. He said it was ridiculous to claim that the damage to homes was something other than storm water “moving earth.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo heard the call and immediately amended the NY Rising Program to help cover homeowners who FEMA excluded. But the money has yet to materialize. Since NY Rising sent financial award letters to 4,300 residents last month, no actual checks have followed.
Standing on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola, County Executive Mangano also called on FEMA and the state to adjust the price per square foot they pay in assistance to recognize the high costs of rebuilding in our region.
“The realities are that $160 per square foot is not enough when it costs $200 per square foot to rebuild in Nassau County,” Mangano told the crowd. “So today we stand strong…We stand united…We stand with one voice.”
Lastly, Mangano and the group called on NY Rising to stop denying rebuilding grants to storm victims who took out SBA loans, which were taken upon the government’s urging, soon after the storm.
Mangano said “immediate, emergency (federal) legislation is needed” to remedy the problem, as “laws are standing between you and your home.”
Federal Disaster Recovery Funds are being allocated through the state’s NY Rising program. Mangano said he had reached out to both Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and “they were well aware of this situation.” State Assemblyman Brian Curran and County Legislator Denise Ford who represent the area, joined the rally as well.
But members of the group – created by Freeport resident Michelle Mittleman – say they’re tired of the “rhetoric” and just want their claims paid. They carried signs that read: “NY Not Rising,” “Homeless With A Mortgage,” and “Homeless for 369 days.”