Residents of the Gerritsen Beach section of Brooklyn say there are being forced by new federal and state regulations to raise their homes or pay higher flood insurance rates, and some homeowners find the costs of either option are too high.
Even if residents were to ignore the new height requirements, they worry mortgage companies will hit them with added flood insurance costs that could force them into default.
Jennifer Avena, her husband and three children just moved back to their Gerritsen Beach home three weeks ago, almost five months after Hurricane Sandy struck. They live on the second floor and their first floor is still a work zone.
"Now they want you to raise your homes. How much is that going to cost? I can't afford that," said Avena.
Cherie Lang, who lives across from the Avenas, allowed her neighbors to live with her family for months after the storm.
"I don't mean to be emotional but there are a lot of people who are going to leave," Land said. "When one of us was in a bad way, the other one, you know, was there."
Lang's basement was flooded and now officials are requiring her to fill her basement with sand and raise her home six to eight feet, which will cost about $140,000.
If Lang does not comply, her flood insurance could increase about $9,000 to $10,000 a year. She cannot afford either option.
"I want to raise my kids here. My husband was born and raised here, his father was born and raised here," Lang said.
"The whole community is upset about this and it's not only Gerritsen Beach, it's any coastal community that has been affected by Sandy. So we're getting together with these other communities to be heard," said Charles Hogan, a member of the Property Owners Association Board.
In response, a FEMA spokesperson told NY1 on Monday, "We're trying to work on this with the state and HUD to find a way to help people to elevate. But if we don't do anything, and this happens again, they're going to have to go through this trauma again."
FEMA officials add there are several funding sources for homeowners affected by Sandy, including federal flood insurance policies that can provide up to $30,000 and two federal grant programs administered by the state.
However, Gerritsen Beach locals said many in their blue-collar community may not be able to afford repairs and may have to leave.