Little-known program can help flood-prone homeowners stave off future damage

By Lisa L. Colangelo New York Daily News

Flood insurance program provides money for storm victims to elevate their homes above flood level.

Broad Channel homeowner Joan Delahunt, still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irene, was working on a plan to raise the level of her flood-prone home when Superstorm Sandy struck.

“The [insurance] adjuster called me the week before Sandy hit,” said Delahunt, a musician and teacher, whose home was wrecked beyond repair from the October storm. “I had most of the paperwork I needed.”

Homeowners like Delahunt can get financial help to raise the level of their homes under a little-known provision in their flood insurance.

Local civic leaders are calling on the city to help streamline the process so more Broad Channel property owners can increase the elevation of homes and stave off future flood devastation.

“After Sandy, during the clean-ups, I ran into a lot of people who said they are going to raise their homes,” said Dan Mundy Jr., president of the Broad Channel Civic Association. “But it’s a stress on their resources. More people would do it if they knew about this program.”

Mundy said property owners who file Increased Cost of Compliance claims through the National Flood Insurance Program can receive up to $30,000 to help raise structures above the flood elevation level.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-RockawayPark), who has been working with Mundy to demystify the complicated program. “It would be helpful to prevent damage from future storms.”

In order to qualify, homeowners must have sustained “substantial” damage. It’s a standard that, sadly, won’t be difficult for many homeowners to reach.

Broad Channel, a narrow island connected to Howard Beach and Rockaway by bridges, has been hit hard by floods and storms for years.

But even the storm veterans of Broad Channel, who carefully monitor tides, were surprised by the fury of Sandy.

Mundy pointed out that several flood-mitigation projects are already in the works, including raising the level of some Broad Channel streets and creation of additional wetlands in Jamaica Bay to help calm waves.

He recently penned a letter to Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway, asking him to reduce the paper-laden bureaucratic process of filing a claim.

City officials said they received Mundy’s letter and are working with local officials and civic leaders to find the best rebuilding options.

Delahunt said she is moving ahead with plans to rebuild and raise her home.

“It will safeguard the house and prevent future damage,” she said.

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