New Yorkers still homeless after Ida destroyed their homes

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Nearly two months after Ida ripped through the region, several families in Westchester County are still unable to move back into their uninhabitable homes. They say they’re not getting the help they need to recover.

Jamie Bambace’s horror from Ida still lingers. She said she feels empty and displaced. Weeks after her family’s home on Brook Lane in Rye Brook was flooded, her loved ones remain homeless. “It’s devastating,” Bambace said. “My mom lost everything, between wills and deeds, my adoption records from Honduras.”

The home remains gutted. After the storm, their car was found half a mile away. The family has home and flood insurance, but Bambace said it doesn’t cover the damage. In September, they dished out $10,000, spending nights at hotels, just trying to get by.

They’re not alone. Long-time Rye Brook resident Peter Corcoran is also a victim of Ida. “Twelve years ago, we got wiped out by 18 inches. Before that, six inches,” said Corcoran. “Now, it’s four feet.”

In fact, 16 families on Brook Lane are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. Neighbors say extreme flooding stems from the Blind Brook Creek, which runs adjacent to their street.

Their homes also sit along business parks that could be contributing to the drainage problems. “They keep putting buildings and buildings, there’s no place for the water to go,” said Corcoran. “We need this to be corrected. We can’t keep doing this every six years.”

Rye Brook officials say a 2014 engineering study proposed creating two retention ponds on the nearby SUNY Purchase property. The $500,000 project was never carried out because the school wasn’t interested in using the property in that way at the time.

The current college President, Milagros Peña, says it’s worth revisiting. In a statement, she said in part, “We welcome the opportunity to engage in a community-wide discussion that looks at all the different challenges on- and off-campus and look forward to working together on a plan that safeguards the entire community.”

Westchester County Executive George Latimer addressed the issue Monday. He said the county is working with the federal government to identify the infrastructure funds needed to alleviate the problems. 

Rue Brook residents are begging for a solid solution before Mother Nature’s wrath returns. “Next August hurricane season, it definitely can happen again,” Bambace said.

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