Jul 30, 2014

FEMA: Temporary Fix to Ravaged Homes

FEMA: Temporary Fix to Ravaged Homes FEMA: Temporary Fix to Ravaged Homes FEMA: Temporary Fix to Ravaged Homes
Emergency agencies plan to begin making quick fixes to homes made unlivable by Hurricane Sandy and to "shelter in place" displaced families.

It's the first time such a plan has been tried by FEMA, which has decided on this route because its typical options are not available in the New York metropolitan area, federal and local officials said.

"This is not a nice-to-do thing – it is a must-to-do thing," said Michael Byrne, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. "It is getting cold and people's lives are in jeopardy." The program, announced Wednesday at the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management in Bethpage, will enable families to remain in or return to their homes while permanent repairs are completed. 

The program has three key components:
  • Residential electrical meter repair.
  • Temporary essential electrical measures, including running power lines to individual homes.
  • Rapid temporary exterior repairs, such as enclosing exposed walls and roofing.
FEMA decided on this approach after examining its options, Byrne said. The metropolitan area has limited available hotel and rental options – unlike many other parts of the country, and no viable place to put large numbers of trailers.

Following previous national emergencies, FEMA has housed displaced people in trailers, such as were used in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Byrne said FEMA doesn't use those trailers any more. Authorities don't know how many people are actually in need.

Some 190,000 have applied for help in the metropolitan area, far less than officials believe are in need of this kind of help. Authorities believe many are hunkered down in their cold, darkened homes. The "shelter-in-place program is still being developed. Local contractors and electrical workers will be employed by FEMA in the quick-fix efforts, said Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano.

Additional federal financial assistance is available for permanent repairs to homes damaged by the storm.

Homeowners in Nassau and Suffolk who want to apply for assistance should contact their county or local officials to receive contractor support. Homeowners must be registered with FEMA: The number is 800-621-FEMA (3362).

Story and photos by Joe Dowd.

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