My name is Roger Gendron and I am the president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association and have been a resident of Hamilton Beach for over 50 years.
Many of us are still in the process of recovering from the worst natural disaster to hit our area but we are faced with an even greater man-made disaster, the Build it Back program. Homeowners, their homes destroyed or damaged, who lost nearly all of their possessions were informed by the city that Build it Back would do just that, help build back their homes.
In the year and a half since Sandy hit, while some homeowners have completed repairs on their own, most are still repairing their homes using insurance proceeds, which more often than not did not cover all of the damages inflicted from Sandy, as well as savings accounts and retirement accounts. Most have maxed out their credit cards. They are also paying both the mortgage on their damaged home as well as renting another place to live.
The areas, and the residents who live there, that have been affected the most seem to be the same areas that will suffer the most if Build it Back does not start releasing funds for repairs as well as reimbursements. Hamilton Beach, like Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Breezy Point and other hard-hit areas, is composed mostly of single-family homes. Most of our residents have family ties to our community having grown up here and later purchased their first homes. The homes are modest but they are our homes, homes that would have become unaffordable if the flood insurance rates hikes were allowed to go through, but they were stopped in large part because of a grassroots organization called Stop FEMA Now. We are now facing an even bigger battle. The Build it Back program has allocated $306 million for single-family home rehab and reconstruction. They have spent $ 9.6 million but have finalized and released to the homeowners zero.
We call upon the mayor to start releasing funds to homeowners who desperately need the financial help before this man-made disaster does more to destroy our communities than any storm has ever done.