New York Rising is a community reconstruction program that was established by New York State to provide additional rebuilding and revitalization assistance to those who were damaged by such storms like Hurricane Sandy. Sounds good, right? Well, not all in Long Beach are happy by the program, as Kirstie & Kevin Reilly tell me their story, which apparently isn’t a common one.
From Kristie & Kevin Reilly, residents of Long Beach:
As you know, many residents on Long Island received letters from New York Rising containing the amount that they would be receiving in grant money. Like many other families, our numbers are incorrect.
We need $58,000 for repairs. Unfortunately, they did not take into account our last amount for $53,000 that we received about a month ago and that we informed them about. So the real number received was $5,000. There was no money allocated to us for mitigation (lifting up the house). Every form that was filled out said that we did not need money for repairs just money for the lifting of the house.
When Kevin spoke to our new (and third) case worker Annoula, she said we can appeal the amount. Kevin wrote a letter last night to her and then tried to send a formal appeal through the NY Rising web site (link). The web site said the ‘Appeal process is still under construction. Thank you for your patience’. Furthermore, after calling several times in the last two weeks, Kevin was finally able to get a hold of Annoula. She said, “Do not call anymore! I will contact you sometime in the future.”
We also contacted, Matt Nelson the of President, Office of Community Renewal who is running the NY Rising grant program. Kevin wrote him this e-mail on Thursday morning:
Good morning Matt,
I’m not sure if you remember me, but we met during the Long Beach town hall meetings. I was at all three meetings and was very excited about the prospect of the NY Rising program. After being shuffled between three case managers who were incapable of answering most questions, a house inspection that needed to be done twice because the photos taken during the first inspection were ‘corrupted’ and the constantly changing rules, I must say that biggest disappointment of all was when I got the grant letter. The grant award (after the flood insurance payment is corrected) was accurate for the few small repairs that we have left but included ZERO mitigation assistance.
The application I submitted was for mitigation, I wrote in the remarks section “we have enough insurance money to do the repairs, we need assistance with lifting the house”. I uploaded the Letter of Determination showing damages greater than 50% and the elevation certificate showing we were below the BFE. I even handed copies of the documents over to our first case manager during the intake meeting. Both documents were not even considered. So now that my application for assistance was miss handled I am back at square one. According to my current case manager I need to appeal the award. As I’m sure you know there is no process is in place to make an appeal. So we wait.
After months of hope that NY Rising would provide a road back home when the letter finally came, it provided no help no help only more frustration and more waiting. My story is not rare, social media is full of similar stories. I just thought you should know.
We have not heard back from Mr. Nelson as well. Anthony, thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail. Hopefully, somebody can put a light on this subject.
Kristie believes her case is buried in a pile of paperwork with no end in sight. Unfortunately, time is of the essence. Like most in her situation, she doesn’t have time to play bureaucratic games. All of this is beyond my expertise, for I personally and luckily haven’t had to deal with programs such as New York Rising. Kristie wanted me to just get this story out there and see who else is experiencing the same.
I do find it strange how very little information is available on the Long Beach-specific NY Rising website (http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/community/city-long-beach), where everything is ‘forthcoming’
Ironically, there is a NY Rising meeting today at the Magnolia Senior Center in Long Beach. Hopefully many of this will be squared away tonight.