Pols, church leaders join in push for FEMA funds for flood vics

Elected leaders and representatives of First Baptist Church of
Riverhead wait in the rain to get a press conference underway
Monday morning at Horton Avenue, where several homes remain surrounded
by flood waters.

Local lawmakers are still looking for ways to tap federal funds to help people whose homes were damaged by the massive rainstorm that swept across eastern Suffolk County in late March.
They’re also hoping the feds will help pay for a long-term solution for flooding on and near Horton Avenue in Riverhead, the epicenter of storm damages and where 11 inundated homes remain uninhabitable.
Elected officials and representatives of the First Baptist church of Riverhead gathered Monday on Horton Avenue to draw attention to residents’ plight there, and to urge renters and homeowners elsewhere to report property damage.
“We really want to spread the word to others about this devastation,” said the Rev. Charles Coverdale, pastor of the First Baptist Church.
Ted Fisch, the regional director of the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) said that if enough people come forward to report their losses, his agency could reevaluate whether or not the region warrants an application for federal emergency aid.
Governor David Paterson last month balked at asking President Obama to declare the region a disaster area because the cost of damages didn’t meet FEMA guidelines.
Shirley Coverdale, wife of Pastor Coverdale said that FEMA has taken special exception to areas of low-income, and with an elderly population, both of which she said apply for the Horton Avenue neighborhood.
Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller added that the town plans to make an application to FEMA for a competitive grant to fund a permanent solution to flooding issues at Horton, such as moving homes there to higher ground and creating a large sump nearby.
“[We need] a long-term solution for repetitive damage,” he said.
Chief Hegermiller urged anyone in Suffolk County whose home sustained damage to contact his or her town supervisor’s office to make a report.
[email protected]

See the May 6 News-Review for more comprehensive coverage.

Looking to comment on this article? Send us a letter to the editor instead.