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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.
bob November 15, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Too bad they can't use the Seaford ave School
patricia November 15, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Bob, You are so right, they absolutely should use the Seaford Ave School !! There are so many people that live in that community that lost their homes and belongings...What can we do to make it happen ? Let's see if we can make it work ?
lil November 15, 2012 at 08:33 AM
why is the body of this article not printing????????????
Wayne Smith November 15, 2012 at 11:03 AM
This actually sounds like a very smart idea. There are people I know who are still without power and aside from the cold and dark that they've living in, the struggle is to find reputable contractors for everything from electrical work, to rip-outs, to heating contractors. And needless to say, given what's happened it can be impossible to get these guys on the phone let alone get work scheduled. If FEMA really can step in and meet that kind of need it would certainly help.
Marcy And Michael D'Ambrosio November 15, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Unfortunately unless that school that you are referring to is a dorm that would not be a feasible solution. These are families that need privacy, a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen area. Also many have children and this would be a very big burden on the school district. I know in some districts they are welcoming in handfuls of children displaced that are living with other family members, however this would mean more than a handful and one district may not be able to take in that many. Also, if I were a parent I would not consider moving to a dorm style setting when you do not know who may be there. There are some sick individuals out there and personal safety and the saftey of your family is of the utmost importance.
Charlie November 15, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I just left a meeting with FEMA and another organization (LIBI, Long Island Building Institute). The program is designed to create temporary housing WITHIN the house that was damaged. If the house is inhabitable and must be completely repaired, this program will not work. If a residence has sustained some water damage and can be occupied after some repairs, FEMA will pay for basic repairs so that you can live in your home. THIS IS IMPORTANT. FEMA WILL PAY FOR THESE REPAIRS DIRECTLY, NOT YOU. An example, if the electrical panel needs to be replaced (if saltwater touched it, it MUST be replaced), FEMA will pay an authorized electrical contractor to replace it (Leo's Electric is authorized), install 4 - 8' baseboard heaters, make connections to a new boiler (also paid for by FEMA), some basic lights, and the oven. This is so a family does not have to be displaced and will give them the very basic necessities to live in their own home. This is a pilot program, I believe it is happening in Nassau County already and is a day or two away from being enacted in Suffolk County. FEMA has, as a part of this program, plumbing and carpentry, but I am not up to speed on that because I am not a plumber/carpentar. Talk with your FEMA representitive, an individual contractor does NOT have the authority to set up this program. Be careful of "storm chasers", contractors from out of state, not licensed, and guys who collect deposits and then disappear. Charles Leo 631 208-6181
Seaford Dad November 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM
For a listing of licensed electricians in your area visit the NEL website NassauElectricLeague.com
Freeksom of Speed November 16, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Do not let FEMA fix your homes. Beware Agenda 21 and loss of your property rights. Beware of the Federal Government, they want your property for Agenda 21 Sustainable Development. Call Tim Bishop and ask him why he supports Agenda 21 and the Federal Takeover of your family's heritage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ijAgVXdmKc&feature=player_embedded
Ranger Sewer November 16, 2012 at 11:44 AM
I would not trust the GOVERMENT with YOUR HOME. THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH !
the truth November 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I want to start a program called "A HOME IN A DAY" Along with LIBA and help from FEMA I can make this happen. There are a lot of contractors out of work along with union workers together we can do this. I am a former contractor, NYS Building Inspector and now and Energy Consultant. Let’s make this happen for are fellow brothers and sisters. GOD BLESS!
Walter Noller November 16, 2012 at 01:09 PM
The idea of returning to ones' home is an excellent idea, restoring a sense of normal in an abnormal world. But, where are the trailers? Has there been any effort to provid temporary shelter that can be placed on private property? While not a blanket fix, it makes repairs on a home easier and there's also the idea of providing security to the home and posessions. It just seems there was quicker response from government agencies on many issues during Katrina. I hope I'm wrong, but it seems those who suffered losses from Sandy have been personally resourceful in getting things done than what was witnessed in New Orleans.
Jim November 20, 2012 at 08:55 PM
If "THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH !" as you put it, why would you continually complain and moan about Obama's ACA and people on government assistance? There is no free lunch as you put it, so they are paying in some way and not mooching off the government as you've said in other comments in other articles.
UV ELECTRIC November 30, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Hello Charlie, How does one become authorized to do this work for FEMA. I am interested in doing work under the STEP program and I am a licensed electrician. Thanks

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