Many Rebuild What Irene Tore Down

By Amanda Raus
|  Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012  |  Updated 4:09 PM EDT
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Dramatic Photos: A Century of Hurricanes

A home on Cosey Beach in East Haven destroyed by storm surge during Irene.

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Walking down Cosey Beach Avenue, you can hear the sound of progress through saws and nail guns. What was once torn down or damaged by Tropical Storm Irene is now being rebuilt.

The reconstruction is making the area taller and stronger, because people remember the incredible flooding just one year ago.

A line on a garage door shows how high the water was a year ago today.

Richard Shiffrin, whose cottage sat at 338 Cosey Beach Avenue, is rebuilding.

"It was the front, the water side, that had received the worst, the brunt of the storm surge and there was a portion that had been ripped off," he said.

Instead of fixing the cottage, he decided to build a new house where he'll stay year round, and one that will be able to handle the next storm because it's built to FEMA requirements.

"I believe it's about 12-and-a-half feet above the base flood elevation," he said.

For Shiffrin, there was no question about staying on Cosey Beach, because there are not many places like it. And even though it became the victim of Irene's fury, he says it's slowly becoming the beachside community it once was.

"There seems to be, at least with the people I see on the street, a commitment to rebuild, to rejuvenate,” he said. It’s a street that has suffered a loss, but residents are going to come back," Shiffrin added.

But not everyone can afford to rebuild. 

There are still some properties that remain unchanged from one year ago. In front of many of those houses are “for sale” signs. 

"They have not been able to recover all the money to put the properties back with all the new laws and regulations," said John Giordano,  a homeowners who isn’t rebuilding. 

He demolished his house days after the storm. He was planning to build a new one in its place, but instead of the $250,000 he was expecting in insurance money, he received $160,000.

"They’re stating that they only want to pay a portion of the insurance because they didn’t get to see the entire house before it was taken down, even though we showed them photos and documented what was there," Giordano said.
 
So he sold his lot to his neighbor, Shiffrin, and is still fighting with FEMA.   

"They say. ‘This is what we’re going to give you. Here’s your claim.’ and then, when you go to fight it with FEMA back in Maryland or wherever their home offices are, that’s when all the delays come in," Giordano said.

Because it’s the federal government, the state can only do so much to help homeowners. But the Connecticut Insurance Department said if people are running into problems, they should contact the department.

"There are appeal processes through FEMA that they can contact us and we can give them that information, and that would be the decision that would be final," said Gerard O'Sullivan, program manager of Consumer Affairs in the State Insurance Department.
 

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