100 days post-Sandy, N.Y. Gov. Cuomo wants some areas emptied

A woman walks with her dog by homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy along the beach in the Rockaways on January 15, 2013, in New York City. Getty Images

NEW YORK New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to spend up to $400 million to buy and demolish homes wrecked by superstorm Sandy and permanently preserve the land as undeveloped coastline.

A Cuomo administration spokesman confirms the state would use a portion of the $51 billion disaster relief package approved by Congress last week. That would be subject to federal approval.

The plan first reported Monday by the New York Times was presented to federal officials Friday, and the Times reports some are receptive to the idea.

The program would offer previous full market value for homes in the 100-year flood plain substantially damaged by the storm and related flooding. It's estimated 10 to 15 percent of 10,000 owners might apply.

Cuomo raised the buyout proposal earlier, along with other new measures to protect New York City's underground infrastructure from flooding.

The proposal may be a tough sell in many hard-hit areas, including the Rockaways, reports CBS station WCBS in New York.

Local resident Daniel, of Belle Harbor, Queens, told WCBS pre-Sandy value was not all that great anyway. He said he does not expect people to go for the plan.

"Especially if people still have their mortgages, or whatever, like that, then we get the money, we don't even have enough money to pay off our mortgages," Daniel said. "Where would they be then? Where would they live?"

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., D-Queens, told WCBS only a few people have shown any interest. But he predicted that more might when new flood maps come with strict requirements that may cost them too much to meet.

A similar plan in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was met with fierce resistance by locals after it was proposed by then-Mayor Ray Nagin. Eventually, many of the low-lying areas marked for greenspace saw residents return anyway.

So far, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has not announced any similar intentions regarding the numerous shore communities in that state that were ruined by Sandy.

On a Monday night appearance on David Letterman's show, Christie only talked about rebuilding efforts.

"We still have 42,000 families tonight who are homeless" as a result of Sandy, he told Letterman. He also said that nearly 82,000 businesses are still out of commission.

The governor stressed efforts he's making to ensure that properties are rebuilt stronger and that standards are higher.

"We can't have this happen again," he said.

Meanwhile, residents in one New Jersey beach community are struggling with insurance claims so much that Christie and members of his cabinet are heading there in person later Tuesday.

Christie is taking his banking and insurance commissioner, the director of the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding and other officials to Union Beach.

He's planning to announce measures to help residents deal with insurance disputes.

State and Federal Emergency Management Agency employees are to be on hand in the community all day to help residents with their individual problems.

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