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Queens Chronicle

Cuomo suggests Hurricane Sandy victims move from coast

Governor’s budget funds buyouts or reinforcings of shorefront homes

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:07 am, Thu Feb 7, 2013.

Do you live in a community that was flooded during Hurricane Sandy? Gov. Cuomo suggests maybe you should considering moving.

In an interview with the Daily News editorial board, the governor said people who live in flood zones on the coast should consider moving away.

“At one point, you have to say maybe Mother Nature doesn’t want you here,” the governor said. “Maybe she’s trying to tell you something.”

Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge flooded over 90 percent of the Rockaway Peninsula and all of Broad Channel and Howard Beach south of the Belt Parkway. Nearly all of the flood zone from Sandy coincided with the city’s pre-Sandy designation of “500-year flood” areas. But some of the locations, including Breezy Point, Broad Channel and Hamilton Beach, were also flooded in Irene last August.

As part of his proposed budget, Cuomo plans to authorize state buyouts of properties in areas flooded by Sandy if people want to sell their land and move using some of the $50 billion that was approved by Congress this month.

But his budget would also include funds to help residents who want to stay rebuild their homes to be less susceptible to the elements — including building new houses and buildings out of concrete or higher above the ground.

Cuomo said the state would take whatever land people sell to it and consider turning it into parkland. Among the areas that could be left partially abandoned after the storm is Breezy Point, where more than 100 homes were burned down in a fire that erupted at the height of the hurricane and where some residents still have not returned — and may never. In some neighborhoods, older residents have left permanently to live with children, many in other states.

In a blog post published on the Huffington Post, Mayor Bloomberg said waterfront communities should work to prepare themselves for storms like Sandy, but added he did not expect an exodus from the neighborhoods.

“The question I have gotten most often since the storm is not about the damage Sandy caused, but about whether people can rebuild their homes in coastal communities,” the mayor wrote. “Let me be clear: We are not going to abandon the waterfront. But we cannot just rebuild what was there and hope for the best. We have to build smarter and stronger and more sustainable.”

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Far Rockaway), who noted nearly three-quarters of his district was underwater during the storm, said he approved of the governor’s budget plans.

“I commend the governor for putting forward money to allow people who want to move to move,” he said. “And I commend the governor for also offering to help those who want to stay.”

Goldfeder, whose own house in Far Rockaway was damaged by the storm, said he expected many of his constituents would stay.

“I know my district and I’m quite certain that no one will want to move,” he said. “I’ll make sure they have what they need to recover.”

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