Plan to buy land from some homeowners in flood plains
The budget hearing on Environmental Conservation wasn't all about fracking. There was also a lot of talk about how the state is going to rebuild in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, specifically about Cuomo's plan to buy land from some homeowners in severe flood areas. Zack Fink has more.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Now that roughly $30 billion in federal aid has been approved, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to dedicate $400 million of that to buyout New Yorkers whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.
"It's a high priority for the governor. It's a great way to get homes that are in highly susceptible flood probe areas out of flood plains," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.
That is welcome news for residents of Fox Beach on Staten Island, many of whom are ready to move on.
“I’m just done. I can’t deal with it anymore. I’m very proud of the governor and the governor’s integrity. This isn’t a matter of taxes, this isn’t a matter of money this is a matter of people’s lives,” one person said.
But others are far more skeptical of the government's plan, especially in New Dorp Beach.
“I don’t think it’s a very good plan at all. You’re asking people to leave their homes, leave the neighborhood, leave all they know. Some of them for generations. I think his plan or his mind should be focused on protecting the people who actually live here,” another person said.
"We would not take their property. This is voluntary. The hazard mitigation program that would be funded by FEMA and then run through the state of New York is a voluntary program on the part of the homeowners. So if people don't want to go, they don't have to," said State Senator Diane Savino.
Senator Savino is part of the State Senate's bipartisan hurricane relief task force. They plan to craft legislation to address needs at the state level stemming from sandy.
Under the governor's plan, homeowners would be bought out at the market price of the home before the storm.
Some areas will be flood prone for the foreseeable future and those who don't want to leave will be faced with the burden of higher insurance premiums.
"If you choose not to leave, we are not just going to abandon you. We are not just going to say you are on the block by yourself good luck. That is not going to happen," State Senator Malcolm Smith said.
Members of the task force have now had two press conferences in just the last week but have not provided any details about the kind of legislation they will propose. They say that is due in part to the fact that they are working closely with the governor's office and they want to make sure everyone is on the same page.