03/19/13 3:36pm
03/19/2013 3:36 PM

TROY GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Rabbit Lane in East Marion was among the streets hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy on the North Fork.

North Fork business owners and others impacted by Hurricane Sandy have just one week left to secure a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The deadline to apply for the 30-year loans of up to $2 million is March 29, SBA officials said.

“The loans can serve as bridge money for business owners fighting it out with their insurance companies,” said SBA spokesman John Oliver Frederick.

The loans are not limited to people whose businesses suffered physical damage. Economic injury loans are available to those who saw a decline in business as a direct result of the storm and the deadline for those loans is June 30. Mr. Frederick has been making his way around the North Fork this week, speaking with farm and vineyard owners who suffered both physical and economic damages.

“I’ve had vineyard owners telling me business is down 25, 30 percent this winter,” he said. “An economic injury loan can help mitigate that.”

Interest rates on the loans for small businesses are between 4 and 6 percent, and as low as 3 percent for nonprofits.

The SBA also offers home disaster loans of up to $200,000 for homeowners or renters who had to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property. Interest rates on the home disaster loans range from 1.7 to 3.4 percent.

More than $1.2 billion in federal disaster assistance was approved for Sandy victims in New York, including $61 million dedicated for Suffolk County, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of the seven counties receiving disaster aid, Suffolk was awarded the fifth most. Nassau County topped the list at $269 million, FEMA officials said.

North Fork residents and business owners interested in applying for a loan can do so online at sba.gov. For more information call (800) 659-2955. To meet with an SBA representative, business recovery centers have been set up at Islip Town Hall and Copiague Public Library.

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02/28/13 12:00pm
02/28/2013 12:00 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Superstorm Sandy caused significant damage to the parking area at Veterans Memorial Park in Mattituck.

The parking lot at Veterans Memorial Park beach in Mattituck took the pounding surf head-on all day and night when superstorm Sandy struck in October and the damage is still readily apparent to anyone who stops by the usually peaceful park on Peconic Bay.

A chain-link fence sprinkled with No Trespassing signs cuts across the parking lot. Beyond it, the asphalt is so heaved up and cracked it looks as if an earthquake hit instead of the remnants of a hurricane.

Down the beach, an entire section of bulkhead has washed out, leaving just the pilings, and metal tie rods that held them in place, exposed on the beach.

Mattituck Park District commissioner Nick Deegan said this week that he doubts the park will be ready to open in time for Memorial Day Weekend, since the district is currently awaiting engineering diagrams of how to repair the beach.

He said the park district expects FEMA will reimburse some of the cost of repairing the damage, which he estimated at upwards of $100,000.

FEMA has already paid $1,400 for the fence across the parking lot.

“The parking lot is under review as to whether we should resurface it as is or rebuild the end of it,” Mr. Deegan said. “We already had been in talks with an engineering firm on drainage in the parking lot. Now, of course, with the storm damage, it becomes even more urgent.”

Mr. Deegan said the bulkhead on the west side of the beach had been deteriorating for years, but during the hurricane it completely washed through.

“The storm got to it before we got to it,” he said.”

The park district had already paid a contractor to do an initial site cleanup, but Mr. Deegan said the landscaping and a small fence in front of the park building were torn out during the cleanup and must now be replaced.

A large cylindrical cement mooring found during the initial cleanup is also still sitting in the parking lot.

Mr. Deegan said he’s been in touch with Group for the East End about holding a beach grass replanting session later this spring.

“It was a nice growth, years of growth,” he said of the beach grass that had grown there. “It’s bare now.”

Mr. Deegan said the park district’s other beaches — Breakwater Beach and Bailie Beach on Long Island Sound — were not badly damaged by Sandy, though some debris did wash up. He expects they’ll both be open in time for the summer.

But for Veterans Memorial Park, “Memorial Day is going to be a stretch,” he said, adding that the best he can hope for is completion of repairs some time in June.

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02/19/13 4:30pm
02/19/2013 4:30 PM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | A bird's eye view of Greenport Village.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | A bird’s eye view of Greenport Village.

Greenport Village’s waterfront sustained about $100,000 worth of damage from Hurricane Sandy, according to memos prepared for tonight’s village board work session, which will begin at 6 p.m. at the Third Street firehouse.

Though the village is expecting the cost of repairs to eventually be repaid by FEMA, Village Administrator David Abatelli recommends the work begin soon in order to have the docks in shape for visitors by Memorial Day.

The village is also close to adopting its updated Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, a blueprint for how village residents would like to see the waterfront look in the future. The village board will hold a special informational meeting on the final draft of the plan with consultant Dave Smith at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Front Street on Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m.

The draft is expected to include some proposed zoning changes, a proposal to build an aquaculture support facility, expanding McCann Campground on Moore’s Lane, enhancing Moore’s Woods and creating a trail from Long Island Sound to Peconic Bay.

More information on the LWRP is available here.

The village is also expected to finalize changes to its mass assembly permits for Mitchell Park in the near future and the village’s code committee is discussing changes to its wetland permit fee structure.

Greenport Village Board Work session agenda 2.19.13

12/23/12 12:00pm
12/23/2012 12:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | One of the large FEMA-funded trucks at the town’s refuse and recyling center in Cutchogue collects storm debris for disposal in Brookhaven.

Just in time for Christmas, Riverhead and Southold towns have received a sizable gift from Uncle Sam.The many tons of tree limbs, tree trunks and other debris left behind by Hurricane Sandy no longer sit in huge piles, thanks to Suffolk County and the Federal Emergency Management Agency .

Smooth and speedy coordination among the town, county and federal governments resulted in the removal of 60,000 cubic yards of debris from the North Fork by way of tandem trucks at no cost to local taxpayers, said Jim Bunchuck, Southold’s solid waste coordinator.

“It was really perfect,” Mr. Bunchuck said. “This was all part of FEMA’s aid to the town. We didn’t even have to provide a payloader or anything to get the debris into the trucks because the trucks had their own great big shovels to load themselves.”

The trucks, which belong to a Missouri company, were contracted to take storm debris to the Brookhaven landfill, where FEMA has staged incinerators to burn the debris.

“We didn’t initially feel we would need help with the brush because we have our own compost area, but the amount of debris that came in ended up being overwhelmingly large,” Mr. Bunchuck said. “We processed a year’s worth of debris just in the month of November and we still have a lot of processed wood chips leftover from Irene.”

Although Southold Town has room to store the debris at the Cutchogue waste transfer station, Mr. Bunchuck said processing it would have taken a year.

“Normally brush can’t be burned, but because of the emergency declaration, burning it up in Brookhaven is allowed,” he said. “That’s saved us a big headache and allowed us to keep on top of the situation. It’s been a great benefit.”

Jack Naylor, director of utilities in Greenport Village , said Southold learned help was available from Riverhead Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson.

Mr. Woodson said his crews calculated that 20,000 cubic tons of debris was trucked away from Riverhead Town alone.

“We had meetings with the county recovery team in Yaphank every day after the storm and they were the ones who initially gave us the choice to get our debris either ground up or trucked out to Brookhaven to be burned,” Mr. Woodson said. “I chose to have it trucked out, which took about three weeks.”

Just as the company finished in Riverhead, Mr. Bunchuck said he contacted Mr. Woodson to learn if Southold Town could benefit from their services.

“The trucks mobilized within 24 hours of being contacted,” Mr. Bunchuck said.

Mr. Naylor said he had a similar experience with the contractors, who arrived within hours of being contacted.

“I called at 9:30 a.m. on Friday and they were here at 12:30,” Mr. Naylor said. “They were here Friday, Saturday and Sunday and now they’re done. We saved a ton of money. It hasn’t cost us a dime.”

He said after the trucks completed their work in Greenport, they headed off to remove debris in Huntington.

“It’s been one of those things, like, serendipity,” Mr. Naylor said. “Someone made a call to Riverhead, then we found out and started making calls, too. It’s just been great coordination between the towns and the county.”

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12/07/12 12:47pm
12/07/2012 12:47 PM

TROY GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Some of the less common debris found on the shore along Rabbit Lane in East Marion post-superstorm Sandy.

Friends from around the country have been grilling us recently about how we survived Hurricane Sandy. They’ve seen the coverage of the aftermath, and they want to know if our house by the sea is still standing.

The answer is yes, we respond, but neighbors not far from our home were much less fortunate.

Numerous waterfront homes on Rabbit Lane in East Marion, which we can see across Orient Harbor from the base of our street, appeared to be irreparably destroyed. Based on our personal Sandy experience — some downed branches, some downed wires, power lost for a few days — the level of devastation on Rabbit Lane was difficult to fathom as we walked through that community the day following the storm. When you see items of clothing and family photos and record albums lying in the soggy sand, you know people’s lives have been changed forever.

So, where do we go from here? How do we help those whose homes have been destroyed? And what do we do to guard against the same thing happening again in the future?

It should be self evident to all of us that this most recent storm was neither an aberration nor an anomaly. It is our future. Despite the head-in-the-sand naysayers out there, global warming is quite real and here to stay — unless, by some highly unlikely stroke of recognition mankind wakes up in time to stall or reverse this destructive course we’ve set. But don’t bet on it. Much more likely is more of the same — melting ice caps, rising sea levels, more intense and more frequent storms and more coastal devastation.

One of the most logical things to do, of course, would be to pull back from the shoreline and let Nature reclaim the territory where we never should have settled in the first place, including the barrier islands that stretch from Key West to the maritime provinces of Canada. And that means no costly beach replenishment and no new construction in the flood zone.

But that’s not going to happen, either. Which leaves us with existing requirements, which are a little unclear because of the unprecedented nature of this most recent storm. (For example, in the process of gathering information for this column, I was at first unable to determine exact post-Sandy building height requirements — even after making direct inquiries at Town Hall and with the relevant federal agency in New York and Washington.)

Nevertheless, Southold Town’s chief building inspector, Mike Verity, reports the wheels already have been set in motion for some big changes for waterfront communities like Rabbit Lane. When I spoke to him on Tuesday, he was getting ready to meet with a representative of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the outfit that ultimately determines what affected homeowners can and cannot do in the wake of a storm like Sandy.

If, for example, a house in a high-risk area — where there’s a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage -— suffers more than 50 percent damage, it may not be rebuilt in its former configuration. In Southold it must be raised between six and 15 feet above the relevant flood zone and the owner must pay for flood insurance if there is a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.  (According to FEMA’s website, “Flood insurance isn’t federally required in moderate-to-low areas, but it is recommended for all property owners and renters.”)

You might think there would be some resistance to these FEMA regs, but Mr. Verity says local residents whose homes were severely damaged by Sandy seem to have read the handwriting on the wall. “Most of them are willing to make adjustments,” he said. “People know what has to be done, and they’re making the adjustments because they won’t want it to happen again.”

But it will, of course.

So, rather than throw our hands up in the air to scratch our heads on the subject of global warming, what can each of us do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint? Here’s a list of 10 things I’m doing, or plan to do in the near future, and I’d be interested to hear some other suggestions from you, dear reader. Please send them to [email protected] and I’ll share some of the best ones in a future column.

Troy’s Top Ten: 1. Use my 75 mpg Honda scooter whenever possible. 3. Better yet, walk or use the bicycle. 3. Take public transportation whenever possible. 4. Don’t buy any more of those stupid plastic water bottles. 5. Turn off the lights. 6. Turn down the heat. 7. Lighten up on the “dangers” of nuclear power. 8. Help deliver more local news via the Internet instead of via newsprint. 9. Plant some trees. 10. Spend more time in our off-the-grid cabin.

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11/08/12 4:55pm
11/08/2012 4:55 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Not much was left of the docks near Mitchell Park  in Greenport after Sandy.

Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives will be available Friday in Greenport Village to assist residents and business owners with registering FEMA claims.

The mobile federal disaster recovery center which was at Southold Town Hall earlier in the week will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Third Street firehouse.

For more information, contact Village Hall at (631) 477-0248.

11/05/12 4:57pm
11/05/2012 4:57 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Chris Baiz, owner of The Old Field Vineyards in Southold, meets with FEMA rep Nika Herford at Southold Town Hall Monday afternoon. Mr. Baiz’s property was damaged during last week’s storm.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will continue to be on hand at Southold Town Hall today and tomorrow to help residents in need of disaster assistance as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, over 25 people had sought information about FEMA assistance at town hall. In a roundtable-type forum, Nika Herford of FEMA helped a group of homeowners on how to apply for federal assistance.

The county received a major disaster declaration from the federal government on Oct. 30.

Some residents who showed up at town hall this morning were out of luck because FEMA reps didn’t arrive until later this afternoon.

FEMA spokeswoman Marybeth O’Leary said the delay was due to Suffolk County officials arranging the federal disaster recovery center at town hall without their knowledge. She said the misinformation has been cleared up and confirmed FEMA reps will be available at town hall to assist residents until 7 p.m. tonight and again tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ms. O’Leary said as of Saturday morning, nearly 565,000 county residents had submitted federal assistance applications and over 250 households had been approved for FEMA grants.

As of Saturday morning , some $1.75 million had already been approved for Suffolk County residents, she said.

Those with homeowners and/or flood insurance can still receive FEMA assistance if their insurance settlement is delayed or is insufficient to meet disaster-related needs.

Storm victims can also receive FEMA help if they’ve exhausted the additional living expenses provided by their insurance policies, or if they cannot find rental housing.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, whose low-interest loan program was designed by Congress to help residents recover from disasters, is also providing loans for qualified residents (even if they don’t own a business) who sustained storm-related damages.

Residents are urged to visit disasterAssitance.gov or apply via Smartphone at m.fema.gov. People can also call (800) 462-7585.

Read more in the Nov. 8 issue of The Suffolk Times in both our print and electronic editions.

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11/04/12 3:56pm
11/04/2012 3:56 PM

JOHN DUNN FILE PHOTO | Senator Charles Schumer announced Sunday federal aid is coming to local municipalities.

Local federal elected officials announced Sunday FEMA aid is now available to fund repairs for public infrastructures and facilities damaged this week by Hurricane Sandy.

According to a press released issued by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s office, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate agreed to expand President Barack Obama’s major disaster declaration to include all categories of public assistance for the counties affected by the storm, including: roads, bridges, water control facilities, public buildings and equipment, utilities, parks, recreational facilities, beaches and more.

Initially, municipalities on Long Island and in New York City and the Hudson Valley were only eligible to receive federal aid for some public services like debris removal and emergency protective measures.

Residents in those areas have been eligible for individual assistance from FEMA.

Mr. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand applauded FEMA’s recent decision.

“It is critical that FEMA has heeded our call and expanded the major disaster declaration to include full public assistance for communities throughout storm-ravaged New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley,” Mr. Schumer said.

“Providing this full range of federal disaster assistance is essential for repairs to everything from sewages facilities, to parklands, to the hundreds of roads and bridges that were destroyed in the storm, and I am pleased that our communities can know that the federal government will be there to help as they continue their response and recovery efforts.”

Ms. Gillibrand agreed and described the damage she has seen as “devastating.”

“The federal government has a responsibility to stand with these families every step of the way to help them recover and rebuild better than ever before,” she said. “The Obama administration promised no red-tape, and this is another example of the president backing up that commitment.”

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11/03/12 4:00pm
11/03/2012 4:00 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Paradise Point, Southold.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be on hand in a mobile trailer behind Southold Town Hall on Monday, Nov. 5 and Tuesday, Nov. 6 to help residents in need of disaster assistance as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

FEMA employees will be available from 7 a.m.to 7 p.m.

Suffolk County received a major disaster declaration from the federal government on Oct. 30.

Residents who want to get a jump on applying for assistance can also go online to DisasterAssitance.gov or apply via smartphone at m.fema.gov. They can also call 1-800-462-7585.

Residents without insurance can apply for personal assistance with their housing needs, disaster-related medical and funeral expenses, clothing, household items, tools, fuel, clean-up items, damage to vehicles and moving expenses.

Those with homeowners and/or flood insurance can still receive FEMA assistance if their insurance settlement is delayed or is insufficient to meet their disaster-related needs. They can also receive FEMA help if they’ve exhausted the additional living expenses provided by their insurance policies or if they cannot find rental housing.

Newsday reported today that FEMA has provided about $665,000 in cash assistance to 94 Suffolk County families. Suffolk County Executive Steve Ballone urged residents affected to register with FEMA, which had a mobile center set up Saturday in Shirley.

03/02/11 9:18pm
03/02/2011 9:18 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Damage to the Southold Town Beach (photo taken December 28, 2010).

New York state is eligible for federal disaster aid for the blizzard that caused severe erosion on the East End on Dec. 26, 2010, but Southold Town will likely not know how much federal aid might be released until after a meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on March 8.

FEMA recently announced that federal disaster aid will be made available to local governments and some private nonprofit organizations in Nassau and Suffolk counties for “emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm.”

The federal agency will pay not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing public facilities and not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for removing debris from public areas. But FEMA will pay not more than 75 percent of the cost of hazard mitigation projects in the wake of the storm.

The March 8 meeting will be held at Suffolk County Department of Fire and Rescue headquarters, according to Southold Town network and systems administrator Lloyd Reisenberg, who compiled the town’s storm damage report.

Mr. Reisenberg said the town has submitted a plan for long-term repair of the parking lot at Town Beach in Southold that will stand up to future storms. The parking lot has been closed since the storm because the asphalt was undercut and is crumbling due to stripping away of the underlying sand.

The town is also seeking federal help to repair several hundred feet of road between Goldin Lane and the end of Soundview Avenue, also in Southold. That road has also been closed to traffic since the storm. In addition, the town seeks funds to replenish sand lost at Town Beach, McCabe’s Beach and Kenny’s Beach.

At the March 8 meeting, officials will receive information on how to apply for the aid, which will be distributed through New York State.

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