By Anessa V. Cohen
Last July, I wrote an article discussing a program called Clean and Seed that had been set up to assist homeowners affected by Superstorm Sandy flood waters. Nassau County crews would scoop up the contaminated soils and foliage, replace them with clean soil, and then reseed those areas for new lawns.
This past summer, for some reason, the only area that benefited from this program—which was funded through the federal government, with funds being distributed via FEMA and New York State to the Nassau County agency actually working the program—was the Bay Park community.
Many of us read the program’s guidelines as posted by FEMA at that time, and the Five Towns area was also listed as a community that was supposed to benefit under this program but had not received any of the services of the Clean and Seed program.
Lots of yelling and phone calls and emails later, we finally were notified that the program in fact did include us and that homeowners whose properties in the Five Towns had been flooded could register to have the crews come and take care of the contaminated soil and foliage.
So register many of us did! And during the fall months, program inspectors came down and assessed our lawns and properties in preparation for the “cleanup,” which we were all told would actually begin in March 2014.
Fast-forward many miserable, cold, and snowy winter months later, March came, and when we called we were told that the crews would actually begin in April rather than March. So, we waited for April, figuring the program would probably start sometime after Pesach.
Erev Pesach, we all got phone calls. All of a sudden, the funding was canceled. The program was no more! They were very sorry, but it was not their fault.
So, whose fault was it? Well, I understand that no one consulted with the county or the town before arbitrarily canceling this program out of hand. Our officials in Nassau are furious that the federal government and New York State government have been so insensitive and cold to the Sandy victims who have now been waiting nearly two years for this program—one of many that the federal and state officials have promised for the flood victims of our community.
The following needs to be done:
1) Write letters and make phone calls to Ed Mangano, urging him to demand that the feds and New York State reverse this thoughtless decision. The tone of these letters should not be to direct blame or anger at the county—they had no indication these monies would be unavailable halfway through the project.
2) Send letters to New York State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Governor Cuomo, demanding that they fight FEMA to reallocate these funds. Tell them enough is enough! (These funds were supposed to be transferred to the state from the feds, and though the state had direct knowledge of this action, seemingly did nothing to prevent it.)
Recently a lot has been written of the feds removing Sandy funding already allotted to New York and New Jersey victims and utilizing those funds in other parts of the country instead. Many homeowners are finding themselves cut off at the knees for monies that should have been given to them, only to find those monies being moved to cover non-Sandy items in a different part of the country. Only showing your displeasure with phone calls and letters will wake them all up! v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.