Nov 26, 2012 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
Nine thousand homes in two days.
That’s how many properties Baldwinsville’s Code Enforcement Officer Gregg Humphrey helped assess on Long Island after Hurricane Sandy hit.
As part of Code Enforcement Disaster Assistance Response (CEDAR), a program administered by the New York State Division of Code Enforcement Administration, Humphrey traveled to Long Island Nov. 3 where he worked with a team to provide rapid assessments of homes damaged from the storm.
“We were looking at storm surge damage and general flood damage,” he said, adding they looked to see how high the waterline was, whether certain systems such as electrical were affected, as well as structural damage. “Some homes were pushed off of their foundations and others were made to lean after being hit by the wind and storm surge.”
During his three-day deployment, Humphrey was stationed at the West Islip Fire Department. His team was working for the town of Islip and concentrated on Fire Island and coastal neighborhoods on Long Island.
Seeing the devastation first-hand, Humphrey was blown away by the amount of sand and the damage the storm caused.
“The name chosen for this hurricane says it. The amount of sand that the storm brought ashore is mind-boggling,” Humphrey said. “[Sand] is everywhere and it is packed like it is on the beach. You can stand up on it. You don’t sink in at all. The monumental task of moving all of it back to rebuild the dunes is inconceivable.”
His team found that most properties had little to no damage. However, out of 9,000 homes, there were many buildings that had significant flood damage. Humphrey noted most of the homes that were a total loss were on the ocean side and took the brunt of the wind and storm surge.
“I was impressed to see how the building code has gotten better over the years,” he said. “The older homes that were built on standard foundations suffered the most damage from flooding and storm surge, while newer homes built on piers, or stilts, suffered minimal damage for the most part.”
Despite the damage inflicted by Sandy, there is a good prognosis for the area.
“According to local officials, the island should be close to 100 percent by this time next year,” Humphrey said. “It was said of the people that reside on the island that they are very resilient and will start rebuilding as soon as possible. The residents we met were already talking about moving the buildings back onto their foundations and rebuilding.”
CEDAR is part of a statewide coordinated effort with the Division of Homeland Security and the Office of Emergency Management to assist local municipalities with the assessment of property damage related to disaster. It consists of code compliance technicians, code enforcement officials from local municipalities, engineers, architects, fire service members and other certified individuals. Humphrey was happy to join the ranks.
“Being a code enforcement officer and having the knowledge of construction, I felt that it is my duty to assist municipalities and taxpayers by providing this service. I would hope for the same help if my municipality suffered from a disaster,” he said, adding that CEDAR is an important resource for areas affected by a natural or man-made disaster.
“Local municipalities become overwhelmed in cases of disaster and do not have the manpower to assess structural damage on a large scale,” he said. “As we have seen more of these storms and flooding in recent years, it is apparent that we need this inter-municipal cooperation more than ever.”