Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Governor Cuomo Seeks to Buyout Homes Destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

In a striking move New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has put into motion the first steps towards what would be an incredibly ambitious land buyout and reallocation project. According to the New York Times article published yesterday:

The purchase program, which still requires approval from federal officials, would be among the most ambitious ever undertaken, not only in scale but also in how Mr. Cuomo would be using the money to begin reshaping coastal land use. Residents living in flood plains with homes that were significantly damaged would be offered the pre-storm value of their houses to relocate; those in even more vulnerable areas would be offered a bonus to sell; and in a small number of highly flood-prone areas, the state would double the bonus if an entire block of homeowners agreed to leave.

The land would never be built on again. Some properties could be turned into dunes, wetlands or other natural buffers that would help protect coastal communities from ferocious storms; other parcels could be combined and turned into public parkland.

If the proposition was to be approved, individuals who choose to move would also be given an incentive to stay within the county of their residence in an effort to keep residents local. Although FEMA has had such programs for years, this is obviously a controversial move, that is sparking much discussion locally and nationally because of it’s location and proposed cost.

As a Long Island native, who grew up searching marshland with her parents during all seasons for plants and wild life and learning their names, and who watched as mega homes destroyed that land and potentially my chances to have that own opportunity with my children, I can approve of Cuomo’s suggested move. It would create a buffer for the island, allowing for local wildlife to return and protecting homes and property from further damage. We can’t stop climate change, but we can do something to attempt to protect ourselves.

The humanistic and social work part of me cannot imagine however how it might feel to lose your home to this proposition. Although it would be done willingly, it would be a hard decision. How do you let go of something that has so many memories? As the article discusses:

Many residents of shoreline communities in New York City and on Long Island live in homes that have been passed along from generation to generation, and are not eager to hear government officials suggest that they move elsewhere, even voluntarily.

“There is a loyalty here,” said Harvey Weisenberg, a longtime lifeguard in Long Beach, N.Y., who represents the storm-tossed community in the State Assembly, as a Democrat. “There’s an expression: we have the sand in our shoes. Once you’re here, you never want to leave, and if you do leave, you want to come back.”

Although in the first steps, the rough estimated from state officials is that 10-15% of those eligible will participate in the buyout program if is approved so let’s see how this goes for all parties involved.

Written By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer


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