Rep. Grimm Fights to Add Ocean Breeze to State Buy-Out Program

Oct 24, 2013 Issues: Superstorm Sandy

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Today, Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R,C-Staten Island/Brooklyn) called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to include Staten Island’s Ocean Breeze neighborhood in the New York State Buy-Out Program.

“It not only makes sense to return this land to Mother Nature, but will be safer and cheaper for homeowners who would otherwise have to elevate their homes and pay astronomical flood insurance rates,” said Rep. Grimm. “I have been working with the State on the buy-outs and I am confident that Governor Cuomo will continue do the right thing for Staten Island and bring the same level of success we saw with Oakwood Beach.” 

According to the Ocean Breeze Civic Association, Ocean Breeze once contained 129 homes before Superstorm Sandy destroyed 20 of them. Of the remaining 109 standing homes, only roughly 30 are occupied.  As of now, 90 homeowners have expressed interest in the buy-out program.

Rep. Grimm played an integral role in the previous Oakwood Beach buyout and worked closely with Governor Cuomo’s office to ensure that all residents of Aviston Street were included in the program. Initially four homes on the street were left out, despite the high level of damage.

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A copy of the letter is attached and posted below:

October 24, 2013

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Governor’s Office
The Executive Chamber, Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

My purpose in writing is to strongly encourage the inclusion of residents in the Ocean Breeze community of Staten Island into the New York State Buy-Out Program. 

As you know, Ocean Breeze was among those communities that were so devastated by Superstorm Sandy that many of its residents are not back in their homes, now a year later. And unfortunately, Sandy was not the first time residents of Ocean Breeze have borne the brunt of Mother Nature. Nor’easters have repeatedly battered this community and caused substantial flooding; sometimes it takes no more than a heavy rainstorm to cause thousands of dollars in damage. Due to the community’s proximity to the shoreline, its lower elevation compared to Father Capodanno Boulevard, and the presence of several natural water inlets, it is reasonable to expect that the residents of Ocean Breeze will continue to be plagued by costly, disastrous weather events. 

As a result of this risk, many Ocean Breeze residents will face massive increases in their insurance premiums. Given the working class composition of this area, this new financial burden will make it exponentially more difficult for Sandy-impacted residents to return to their homes, and could even lead some to lose their homes entirely. For many the buy-out would be the only way to achieve something similar to the financial stability they had prior to Sandy.

Further enhancing this area’s suitability for the buy-out program is the residents’ strong statement of interest and their organizing activities, which make the availability of large, contiguous land tracts a strong possibility. The acquisition of large tracts could provide significant additional flood protection for surrounding neighborhoods.

In closing, I want to thank you for your work in implementing a buyout program that is helping many Oakwood Beach residents already. I believe we can build on these successes in other areas such as Ocean Breeze, and I look forward to working with you toward this objective.

 

Sincerely,

                                                                                                                                                               

Michael G. Grimm

Member of Congress