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A home wrecked by Tropical Storm Irene in the town of Keene. Photo: Susan Waters
A home wrecked by Tropical Storm Irene in the town of Keene. Photo: Susan Waters

In Essex County, more FEMA buyout funds on the way

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Good news for homeowners impacted by 2011's Tropical Storm Irene: Essex County will get grant money to cover the 25 percent non-federal share for up to 37 property buyouts.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that funds for Hurricane Sandy recovery will be used to make those enrolled in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's property acquisition program whole.

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Reported by

Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

More than 1,100 properties in 17 counties have been processed for FEMA buyouts following Sandy, Irene and Lee. The total cost for those buyouts is more than $194 million.

In Essex County, 26 substantially damaged properties have been approved for buyouts, while another 11 have qualified as non-substantially damaged. The total cost for the 37 properties is more than $4.7 million. FEMA will cover about $3.5 million.

Essex County officials expect to receive about $1.2 million from the state. Without the additional funds, homeowners would receive only 75 percent of the pre-disaster fair market value of their homes.

Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas credits federal lawmakers and Cuomo for securing the funds to make Irene and Lee victims whole.

"We can't have some parts of the state getting 100 percent and others getting 75 percent," Douglas said, "because the impact is great on the individual that got hammered from these storms."

Douglas said the last 18 months have been tough for flood victims in towns like Jay and Keene.

"So many families have been waiting," he said. "I have two families that have lost loved ones that put in for the property acquisition program. I have families that - physically, emotionally - it's been a trying time for them, and they've had to pay rent or they've had to live with relatives. This will just be another part of the recovery process and get them on their feet so they can start moving forward with their lives."

Douglas said the county is almost finished appraising properties. Then, the county will send notices to homeowners notifying them of their property's pre-flood value. If homeowners don't like that figure, they can seek a second opinion.

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