FEMA pressures Hempstead to clean up Building Dept. over Sandy delays

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency is taking the Town of Hempstead to task seven years after Superstorm Sandy.

Many Hempstead homeowners are still in the rebuilding process after Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012. Now, federal authorities are pressuring Hempstead to clean up its Building Department, which they say has caused many of the delays.

FEMA is criticizing the Town of Hempstead and its Building Department for botching damage assessment reports to many resident homes. It sent a letter that says the department’s failed actions have put it in violation with the agency, adding "…the root cause for those violations is largely based on inadequate and/or the absence of administrative procedures."

Supervisor Laura Gillen says she wants to hire a consultant for several hundred thousand dollars to revamp the office. If not, she says, millions in flood insurance discounts and federal aid funds could be lost. “This letter from FEMA confirms what I have been saying since the minute I took office— that we really have serious problems in our Building Department, and we need to clean it up,” she says.

However, Republicans who have voted Gillen’s idea down say current management can fix the department themselves. “We should really focus on providing them what they need to do the best job that they can do instead of taking a $500,000 consultant and putting it on the backs of taxpayers,” says Councilman Anthony D'Esposito.

FEMA says it has given the town a few months to show progress on correcting its procedures, or else the agency says it could take further action.

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