As Thanksgiving approaches, Hurricane-turned Tropical Storm Irene is a distant memory for many, but the late August storm is very much fresh in the minds of one Seaford neighborhood still digging out.
More than a dozen homes on Narraganset Avenue just south of Merrick Road incurred significant flood damage from Irene and an effort has been underway to try and get assistance for the devastated street from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"We're living primitive right now," said Frank Caporaso, whose family has been sleeping on air mattresses after three feet of water flooded their one-floor Narraganset Avenue home during Irene.
Caporaso said many residents throughout Narraganset Avenue have called and sent letters to the Town of Hempstead asking for the local government to file an application with FEMA for assistance. He said three years ago the town proposed raising Narraganset Avenue to help reduce flooding but many residents opposed the plan since it did not include sewer locks.
Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Deery said homeowners need to file FEMA applications on an individual basis. Deery emphasized that the town is not in position to declare Narraganset Avenue a disaster area, similar to what was done with homes on Horton Avenue in Riverhead ravaged by flooding last year, since this would mean the affected houses being taken control of. The town remains open to organizing a project on the street that would minimize further flooding from future storms, Deery said.
"The town is open to a dialogue about a project on that roadway," said Deery.
Damage from Irene was especially devastating for Mary Kate Tischler. All floors in her recently renovated Narraganset Avenue home had to be ripped up and an architect has been brought in to redesign the house nearly from scratch.
"My house was nearly completely destroyed," said Tischler, who has been staying with a friend of the family in Oakdale since Irene. "It's the worst, most traumatic event in my life."
Tischler said one positive from Irene has been how neighbors on Narraganset Avenue have worked together in the aftermath of the storm to determine the best course of action to get help from FEMA and the process for filing insurance claims.
"Before the flooding most of us didn't know each other's names on the block," she said. "We really banded together after the storm and continue to do so."
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