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Some Graham Beach Residents Want To Be A Part Of Governor's Buyout Program

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TWC News: Some Graham Beach Residents Want To Be A Part Of Governor's Buyout Program
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Some Staten Island residents who weren't included in Governor Andrew Cuomo's most recent plans to return a storm-damaged neighborhood to nature and offer residents there a buyout are hoping that that will change. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

Walk around Graham Beach, as the tiny neighborhood just next to Ocean Breeze is known to the old timers who live there, and Hurricane Sandy still lingers.

Some homes look the same way they did just after the storm hit. Others show signs of life, with enough repairs to make them livable again.

"Although I'm thrilled to be home, I'm not thrilled with having no knowledge of what's going to happen," said resident Eileen Pepel.

Surrounded on one side by marsh land and by the ocean on another, Graham Beach is all but exposed in the event of another storm.

Residents have been told to enroll in the city's Build it Back program but have yet to hear how or if they will be helped making their homes storm-safe.

Many, like Pepel, were hoping to sell their houses back to the state for their pre-storm value and return the land to nature.

Pepel said she was disappointed when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to buy out 129 homes in Ocean Breeze that did not include her neighborhood.

"I thought at the very least, the houses along the blue belt were going to be part of that state buyout," she said.

Joe Tirone, the island resident who helped bring the buyout to Staten Island, said that Graham Beach residents who want to participate must get informed and unite.

"Get your communities together, make your presentation," he said. "Anything makes sense, you're eligible."

In the coming days, community leaders will host a series of informational sessions for residents still interested in the state's buyout. Then, they'll take their message to the streets, appointing so-called "street captains" or residents who are well informed of the program and will go door to door to answer any questions that may linger.

"As they learn more about what the options are in terms of raising their homes, what the potential insurance would be if they don't raise their homes, what the costs are, when they really get to weigh that, I think that there really is very little alternative other than a buyout for communities like this," Tirone said.

That's exactly what Pepel is hoping for.

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