Sandy Victims Skeptical of Cuomo's Home Elevation Initiative

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A new, state-funded home elevation initiative from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seeks to convince homeowners affected by Sandy to raise the level of their houses. The initiative is an optional extension of the NY Rising program.

Cuomo made the announcement Wednesday, in front of a Freeport, Long Island, home in the process of being elevated. The South Shore community suffered extensive damage during the storm.

The governor said more than 6,500 Long Island homes are eligible for the program and homeowners should take the option seriously. Homeowners within the 100-year flood plain, or that have been certified as significantly damaged by the federal government, are eligible for the plan.

“To think that, well, Sandy came and Sandy went and it’ll never happen again is denial," Cuomo said, "and I think that is inviting disaster again.”

But critics of the NY Rising program say it’s already plagued with extensive delays, confusing bureaucracy, and unresponsive administrators and case managers.

Ann Marie Farrell, who is trying to rebuild her home in Freeport, said she is frustrated. “I am also homeless, still paying a mortgage, still paying taxes,” she said. Farrell is staying with her husband and two children at her mother's house in Lynbrook. “There’s over 500 of us in Freeport that aren’t back.”

“It’s been extremely difficult,” she added. “So when I heard that Governor Cuomo’s standing here around the block from me patting himself on the back that one house in Freeport has been elevated…it’s a sham.”

To date, NY Rising has distributed financial aid to just 8,000 New York homeowners.