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Irene's Devastation Continues for Mamaroneck Family

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Myriam Valle hopes to live in Mamaroneck in the future, but it won't be in her Howard Avenue home, left uninhabitable by tropical storm Irene seven months ago.

In the time between the Aug. 28 storm and now, Valle said no work has been done on her home of eight years. The Mamaroneck native said she does not qualify for New York state or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants, including the home elevation grant that would split the cost between the federal government and the homeowner 75/25.

"The foundation of my house is disconnecting from the actual house, so it is a potentially dangerous situation to just patch up walls and live there," Valle said.

Valle isn't eligible for the home elevation grant because her home is in a floodway, an area of land within a floodplain that is adjacent to a stream or river that carries flood flows, according to a 2008 Flood Mitigation Status Report by the Village of Mamaroneck . The Mamaroneck River runs parallel with Howard Avenue, and borders Valle's backyard. When it floods, her home floods.

"Properties located in the designated floodway are not eligible for elevation," Dan Sarnoff, assistant village manager of the Village of Mamaroneck, said. "The only thing that they're eligible for is acquisition. Their homes would be purchased and then demolished, and they would be given money for their property so that they can relocate."

Valle doesn't qualify for other need-based loans because her income is too high, she said. FEMA referred her to the Small Business Administration, which offered residents hit by Irene low-interest loans to fix their homes. Valle didn't take it.

"I am waiting to see if FEMA will acquire my land," Valle said. "In the meantime, I am still making the monthly payments for the mortgage of the home I can no longer live in. In the future, I hope to live in Mamaroneck, the town I grew up in and love."

The home elevation grant is part of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), one of five grant programs offered through FEMA. The deadline for the first round of funding is Wednesday. But, Sarnoff said, there will be a second and third round of funding, for which applications are due April 30 and June 30.

For information on the grant application including specific instructions on how to apply, contact Assistant Village Manager Dan Sarnoff at 914-777-7703 or via e-mail .

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