In more recent speeches, Cuomo has suggested residents should abandon flood-prone areas. “There are some parcels that Mother Nature owns,” he said in his January State of the State address. “She may visit once every few years, but she owns the parcel and when she comes to visit, she visits.”
As part of his plan to return parcels of land to nature, Cuomo has proposed using federal and disaster relief funds to purchase and raze roughly 10,000 homes destroyed by Sandy in the 100-year floodplain, a zone that has a 1 percent chance each year of experiencing greater than normal flooding.
Under the proposal, the state would offer homeowners the pre-storm full market value of their house. Those in severe flood-prone areas would receive a 10 percent bonus above market value as an added incentive to sell. In extreme-risk areas, the state would offer an additional 10 percent bonus if every homeowner on a block signed up for the buyout.
Once under state ownership, the land would be turned into dunes, wetlands, parks, or other natural buffers that would offer protection against future storm surges, as per the discretion of local authorities. The land would not be built on again. Cuomo’s office said it predicts 10 to 15 percent of homeowners will pursue the buyout.
If the proposal is approved, the governor’s office has said it would announce additional details within the next two weeks.
Of course, local reaction to the governor’s proposal is mixed.