Three months after the Town of Oyster Bay survived Hurricane Sandy, residents are pleading with officials to remember the victims who continue to rebuild after the storm.
Drew Bergman, whose Massapequa home was severely damaged in the hurricane, pleaded with the board for answers and guidance regarding the complicated requirements and limitations of house jacking.
Flood zone residents who do not raise their house a certain amount above the flood level are susceptible to up to $9,000 in annual insurance bills, said Bergman. However, with height restrictions and codes placed on the area, he and others were led to believe they might have to flatten their roofs to compensate.
While grants and funds are in place to help with such repairs, grants are not awarded easily, said Bergman, whose personal home reconstruction and house jacking would cost over $100,000.
With little grant money and extensive repairs, Bergman said the many in his neighborhood have simply given up.
"Massapequa was the little engine that could…Now on every block, some houses are abandoned where they just turned the key and walked away," said Bergman, who became emotional when he described a heartbreakingly lightless Christmas. Bergman has had to relocate to a trailer as his home is unlivable.
Supervisor John Venditto and Bergman agreed that the helplessness of those on the south shore has been masked by a tough and resilient perception of the area.
"Everybody thinks we can do it ourselves, and they also think we're all very wealthy, which we are not," said Venditto. "There's a perception that somehow, we don't need help."
While the most severely damaged area in is on the south shore, former Bayville Mayor Victoria Siegel asked that the board not forget the northern side of the Town.
"Since [Hurricane Sandy] we haven't observed anyone coming around to make an assessment of the damage, there hasn't been any cleanup along the road, the drains have not been cleaned out, and the wetlands are filled with debris," she said of the West Harbor Drive area.
FEMA funding will not reach the Bayville municipality for up to 10 years, according to Siegel.
"Having gone through storms before…I understand the process," she said. "However, we can't wait 10 years to have the remediation done along the shoreline" and risk a repeat of West Shore Road.
More information and guidance are one step toward helping rebuild, said Bergman, who said he attended eight of Legislator Dave Denenberg's port-hurricane seminars.
"It's like they're seniors in high school, and we're in kindergarten; we're just learning stuff now," he said, suggesting the Town begin seminars to explain the money victims can get, can't get, and how to go about applying for it.
"One thing you can always count on is that the Town of Oyster Bay will always do right by its residents," Venditto reassured. "It doesn't mean we're perfect, but we will always be there."