Sandy storm victims react to proposed home buyout

(CBS News) STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - One hundred days ago, the Northeast was hit by a left hook from superstorm Sandy.

This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed spending $400 million to buy up and demolish thousands of those homes, so the property can be turned back into wetlands.

Homeowners have mixed feelings about the proposal.

For 11 years, Joe Monte worked two jobs and spent weekends renovating his Staten Island home. Weeks after he finished last fall, superstorm Sandy swept eight feet of water inside.

"I came into the house with paper towels and some Fantastic, and I stood in the middle of the room and called my wife and I told my wife, 'There's nothing to clean here, there's nothing to do. It's done,'" Monte said.

A picture of a house heavily damaged by superstorm Sandy on Staten Island, 100 days after the storm hit.
A picture of a house heavily damaged by superstorm Sandy on Staten Island, 100 days after the storm hit.
CBS News

Monte welcomes Cuomo's proposal to buy up properties like his in flood-prone areas.

"This isn't my dream, the poison that's in this home, the destruction that took this neighborhood. How could you even stay here?" he said. "How could you even live in this neighborhood?"

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But about 30 miles away in Long Beach, N.Y., Fran Adelson plans to stay and rebuild. She, too, lost almost everything in the storm.

"We live here. This is where our homes are, this is where our children were raised, this is where our families are, this is where the businesses that we go to are," she said.

Fran Adelson
Fran Adelson
CBS News

She believes the governor should be looking at ways to help people stay in their communities.

"We would rather see Cuomo spend the money on helping us rebuild than offering to buy people's property," Adelson said.

But Joe Monte says he's had enough. He's walking away.

"I hate that I lost neighbors in my neighborhood," he said. "Three people died in this neighborhood. I hate everything about it. I could never come back here ever again."

Gov. Cuomo's buyout proposal still has to be approved by the federal government. If it is approved, the governor's office says they won't force people to sell their property -- but those who do decide to stay would be offered grants to rebuild their homes.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.