The governor wants Sandy victims along the coasts to sell their homes, get a check and no longer live where ‘Mother Nature doesn’t want you.’ He expects many families to stay because the rebuilding has already begun in many areas.
By Kenneth Lovett / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo wants Hurricane Sandy victims who live along the coast to consider rebuilding their homes on stilts or selling their houses to the state and relocating.
“At one point, you have to say maybe Mother Nature doesn’t want you here. Maybe she’s trying to tell you something,” Cuomo said in a phone interview with the Daily News Editorial Board.
Cuomo said he hopes more Sandy victims will choose to have the state buy them out rather than rebuild in areas that are at risk of future storm damage.
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It would relieve the government of having to pay to rebuild the same houses multiple times.
“You have to be sensitive,” he said. “I’m not saying anybody should sell, but you should think about it. And if you want to sell, we’ll have an option.”
“We give you a check and you move on,” he said. “We take the property.”
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‘Under Cuomo’s plan, the properties would stay “fallow” — with nothing built on it.
One problem, he said, is some of the rebuilding has begun. Owners of those homes likely would not agree to the buyout plan.
Money for the buyouts — and rebuilding homes on stilts — would come from the state’s portion of a $50.7 billion Sandy bill awaiting approval in the U.S. Senate, he said.
Under Cuomo’s plan, the state would have to decide what to do with the bought-out properties. One possibility is giving them to the city or state parks departments.
Another question is who would pay the real estate taxes that would otherwise be lost, he said.
Cuomo in his fiscal 2014 budget plan said he expects to spend $3.6 billion on Sandy rebuilding this year, with much more coming in future years.