Eighty percent of the 183 homeowners along a six-block section of Oakwood Beach on Staten Island, are asking New York State to buy them out of their houses at pre-storm rates and use the land as a barrier to protect the rest of the borough from future storm damage.
The water surged more than 10-feet high in Oakwood Beach during Hurricane Sandy. Homes were damaged beyond repair and now many homeowners are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to buy them out so they can rebuild their lives somewhere else.
Joe Szczesny mops the floor of his Fox Beach Avenue home for the umpteenth time. He rebuilt it much higher after a Nor'easter in the early ‘90's, but it wasn't high enough to protect against Sandy. The storm surge sent sewage and fuel contaminated water up above his shed, and knee deep onto his deck and first floor.
Like many of his neighbors, he says he can never feel safe again.
He's one of a majority of residents who have banded together to take Gov. Cuomo up on his promise of buying them out. The governor's plan would use federal money to pay 100 percent of the homes pre-storm value, plus five percent for acting as a group.
Szczesny, who grew up in his home and owned it for decades, says it's their best option.
You can see the ocean beyond the ridge. It's very close to the homes. The governor's proposal includes building a buffer along the shoreline, which would include the marshland, to protect Staten Island.
Not everyone's on board with the governor's proposal. Some homeowners just don't want to leave, but Szczesny says there's no other way. If they stay, they'll be prime targets for the next big storm and he doesn't want to be there for that.