H2M Group is donating $25,000 to help the victims of recent flooding in Riverhead repair their homes, Supervisor Sean Walter announced today. The supervisor said Blackman Plumbing is donating oil burners to replace units ruined by the floodwaters and Rechler Equities is donating the labor of five people for five days to work repairing homes damaged by the flood.
Walter said he is in discussions with Long Island Builders Institute and has reached out to Habitat for Humanity for additional help.
The relief efforts will be coordinated by Shirley Coverdale out of First Baptist Church of Riverhead, the supervisor said.
"We very much appreciate these efforts," Coverdale said. "But the most important thing is to make sure that the government does its due diligence with regard to assessing damages from the flooding."
To that end, Coverdale is working with Long Island Organizing Network to document flood damages in an effort to get Gov. David Paterson to reconsider his determination that damages from the March 30-31 storm did not warrant a major disaster declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The governor decided against asking the president for a major disaster declaration and on April 15 announced he was seeking assistance in the form of low-interest loans from the Federal Small Business Administration. The governor said he determined that the level of damages sustained by residents in the March 30-31 storm did not rise to a level sufficient to justify a disaster request.
Coverdale calls that decision "an outrage." She said the state's damage assessment was inadequate. She and other volunteers are going door-to-door canvassing residents throughout the county and documenting damages that were not observed or documented by federal or state emergency management officials when they visited the area a week after the storm. "You can't say you made a proper assessment when people from Amityville to Montauk are reporting damages and no one from the government has spoken to them or inspected their property," Coverdale said. Furthermore, storm-related damages continued to occur for weeks afterwards, due to additional flooding because of the swollen water table, she said.
"Although Horton Avenue is the epicenter," Coverdale said, "there's damages all over, far more than we even thought."
"According to the National Weather Service, we were hit by a cyclone that jettisoned itself up the coast and pivoted over Suffolk County, impacting Suffolk, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The weather didn't observe state boundary lines, " Coverdale said. "Disaster declarations and relief should not be limited by state boundaries, either."
The supervisor said he supports the efforts by Coverdale and LION to get Paterson to reverse his decision. "But I think we can't sit around waiting for FEMA, we have to do something ourselves," he said. "The residents desperately need help, and they need it fast."