It was one-stop shopping, Hurricane Sandy-style, at the Lindenhurst Middle School last Wednesday.
That was the night residents, still reeling from the storm, could finally talk to not only local officials, but federal representatives, as well, about where to go, and what they need to do to rebuild their lives in Sandy's wake.
And the purpose of the meeting was clear, and defined early by one resident who spoke out while FEMA rep Loretta was speaking:
"Just give out the money!"
The message was received, as those at the podium began to explain how residents could get the much-needed funds to become whole again.
Loretta stressed the problem of duplication, explaining homeowner's flood insurance and FEMA won't pay for the same damage. Those without flood insurance will need a letter of denial from their company to move the process forward.
To save costs later Loretta urged residents to take advantage of the program Babylon Town recently put in place, offering pickup of hazardous materials such as a boiler or battery, to be kept at the temporary storage facility at Venetian Shores.
(See the accompanying PDF files also posted on the Babylon Town website, and click here to check the latest Sandy updates and links for more information about this and other key recovery information from Babylon Town online.)
(Log onto the Village of Lindenhurst website, and click here to check the latest Sandy updates and recovery information from the Village online. Information about the VOL Relief Fund and how to donate could also be found here. Residents could also text VOL to 411247 for the latest recovery updates.)
Ed Dawson from the SBA explained to everyone the "three-legged stool" process to getting aid: FEMA, SBA, and personal flood insurance.
SBA is key, since many folks throw away the application when it comes in the mail, believing it's meant only for businesses.
In fact the SBA provides low-interest loans of up to $240,000 to those needing to replace their residence and property. For renters the maximum is $40,000. Interest rates start as low as 1.68 percent, and the ability to repay the loan is what SBA examines, not credit scores.
"Among the three [entities] these are the entities that are going to try and make you whole, but understand, you've got to go through the process," Dawson noted.
Those who don't qualify may be referred back to FEMA. Those without flood insurance cannot receive grant money from FEMA, but may still get money for what their insurance company wouldn't cover anyway.
When the money arrives, then what?
The Village's building department said they're going to simplify the rebuilding process by waiving building permits for those looking to fix minor damage, or get their homes raised, provided they stay within the original property footprint.
Buildings Inspector Tom Maher said those looking to exceed the maximum height of 26 feet will still need to go through the Zoning Board of Appeals, as will those looking to make additions to their homes.
Maher also urged residents to get an underwriter certificate from their electrician to guard against future costs.
Representatives from FEMA will continue to work out of the official Disaster Recovery Center at the Lindenhurst Memorial Library, and will be available to residents from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily to guide residents further along the road to recovery.
FEMA rep Loretta said she sympathized with all in attendance, while at the same time offering a sliver of light in the post-Sandy clouds.
"This'll bring your community together' that's the upside of a disaster," she said. "You'll be a stronger community than you've ever been."
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