Just weeks before the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, a Staten Island homeowner says she can finally move on with her life, now that she's officially sold her storm-ravaged home to the state, the first person to do so as part of the governor's buyout plan. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
For Nancy Gardini, returning to her Fox Beach Avenue home since Hurricane Sandy ripped through it has not been easy:
"It's hurtful," she said. "Like, when I just first pulled up and saw it boarded up and it says 'No trespassing,' it's sad."
Now, though, for possibly the first time in nearly a year, Gardini said she's got something to be happy about. She and her mother, co-owners of the beach front home, officially sold it back to the state Monday night, becoming the first residents in the state to complete the entire buyout process.
Under the plan Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in February, the house was sold for 100 percent of its pre-storm value, minus any money already received from flood insurance or federal loans.
Oakwood Beach was selected as the pilot location for the program that's offered to residents in the most vulnerable areas.
While Gardini didn't say how much she was paid for her home, most buyout offers fell in the $400,000 range.
"We did not contest the appraisal. We were happy with the appraisal," Gardini said. "They sent us an official offer letter, and a couple of weeks later, we were in contract, and then here I am. We're closed."
The property will eventually be knocked down and the land preserved.
So far, 183 homeowners in Oakwood Beach have signed on for the buyout. It will likely be expanded to include other Staten Island neighborhoods, and residents on Long Island are also trying to get in on it as well.
It's a process that Gardini said has been simple and easy. She encouraged other homeowners to take advantage of the program if given the chance.
"I'm grateful that they even came through and put this together at all," she said. "For me and my mother, we are both very happy and pleased with the outcome of this. And it was fair, and it was fast.
Those familiar with the buyout said the first closing was meant as a test case for state officials to iron out any wrinkles in the process. Now that it's been successfully completed, a rash of closings is expected in the next two weeks.