Thursday, December 18, 2014

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NY1 For You: Red Tape From Sandy Keeps Staten Island Couple From Home

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Help that is supposed to be on the way for some Staten Island homeowners whose property sustained serious damage from Hurricane Sandy is getting caught up in red tape. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following "NY1 For You" report.

A Staten Island house hit hard by Hurricane Sandy is literally falling apart with one whole side of it collapsing. Yet homeowners Dominique Sweeney and her husband can't get any assistance to enter their home and make repairs.

"There's red signs on the front of the house that says, 'Do not enter, unsafe.' I called the city, the city says I need an architect to come in and clear the house and I can't do that because that runs into thousands of dollars and FEMA's refusing help," says Dominique Sweeney.

FEMA denied assistance to the uninsured couple stating that occupancy could not be verified. Sweeney says that's because they were temporarily moved out of their house while renovations were being made when Sandy struck.

"I have all my papers that I do live there, pay the taxes, every year on it," says Sweeney.

Confusing matters, Sweeney says the city boarded up their house without notice or reason months before the hurricane. The homeowners were trying to figure out why when the storm ravaged their home along with all their belongings.

It's like a domino effect, if you don't get help from FEMA, city can't come in and help with temporary repairs, nobody can do nothing," says Sweeney.

NY1 called the Department of Buildings to find out why the Sweeneys' home was boarded up and a spokeswoman said the agency responded to complaints that the house was abandoned and claims the agency could not reach the owners -- something Sweeney says makes no sense.

"It's turned my whole life inside out, upside down. I mean I worked, I paid a 30-year mortgage off in 20 years to own something. I can't start over now. Everything's lost," says Sweeney.

NY1 called FEMA and a spokesperson said they are looking into Sweeney's case but can't comment because of privacy issues.

NY1 will continue to follow this story.

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