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Greenburgh Residents Demand Solution To Floods

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Stephen Demichiel and Myrna Gutierrez watched in silence as their neighbors bombarded Town Supervisor Paul Feiner with their frustration from what they consider a lack of response by the town after many homes were damaged in recent storms. Feiner attended the Monday night meeting held by the Fulton Park Civic Association at the Greenburgh Town Hall.

“What are you doing about the flooding?” asked Irene Zuck, the association’s former president.

Demichiel and Gutierrez are among several residents on Old Kensico Road whose houses flooded due to Tropical Storm Irene and the heavy rains that followed. During the meeting, they demanded solutions from the town and said they wanted their taxes reduced until the problem is solved.

“We are now in a plug-in zone,” said Maria Gomez, the civic association’s president, adding that as a result, the value of the affected properties has decreased.

Only six months after moving from Yonkers to Old Kensico Road, Demichiel and Gutierrez said they had 40 inches of water in their basement the morning Irene hit.

“It was one of the saddest days of my life,” said Gutierrez, whose cat drowned in the basement.

A week later, their basement and yard flooded again after more heavy rains last Tuesday and Wednesday.

Feiner, who visited them and their neighbors Thursday morning, was quick to point out the construction work that the state is doing on Interstate 287, and what the county is doing in the Bronx River, as possible causes for the excessive flooding.

“This area has always flooded but never flooded as it flooded this year,” he said during the meeting.

Feiner said that he will try to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to buyout the houses of those who are looking to sell, which only seemed to enrage residents.

“We don’t want to lose our neighbors, we want to save their houses,” Gomez said, adding that FEMA promised to buyout houses in Tennessee before, but never did.

Last week, with his basement still full of water, Demichiel said he plans to go nowhere.

“What we want to do is to solve the problem,” he said. “It has to be a solution.”

Demichiel, who estimated that he lost between $20,000 and $30,000 after the floods, said he applied for FEMA disaster relief but received a letter from the agency saying that he is not eligible because he had insurance.

He said that a FEMA inspector who visited his house, however, told him that he can reapply if his insurance doesn’t cover all the damages. Michael McCormick, a FEMA public information officer, confirmed this information.

“One missing piece of paper, one unanswered question resolved, one phone call to the Help Line (800-621-3362) can usually put their applications back on track. The key is to stay in touch with FEMA, and not give up,” McCormick said in an email.

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