Post-Irene demolition begins today

The FEMA Property Aquisition and Buyout Program begins demolishing homes in Essex County today.

The homes that were chosen were severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene more than two-and-a-half years ago.

The first house to be taken down is in the town of Jay at 11 Randys Lane, previously owned by William and Tammy Freeborn.

FEMA covered 75 percent of the funding for the process, and the state covered 25 percent through a Community Development Block Grant.

Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas said he wants homeowners and family members affected by the storm to finally have closure.

“Many (Essex County colleagues) and staff on both the town and county levels all played a role in bringing this process to fruition,” Douglas wrote in a press release. “It feels good to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel as we and the owners of these flooded parcels begin to put this long and drawn out process behind us and begin the healing process.”

Douglas said because of how long the project took to complete, two homeowners died during that time; however, he added that their family members will see the benefits of the buyouts.

“Along with seeing homeowners of flooded parcels being relieved of the burden of their properties, it is also rewarding to see the town of Jay rebuilding in the wake of the disaster,” Douglas said.

Douglas and Keene town Supervisor William Ferebee recently spoke with U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, as well as Rep. Bill Owens, about streamlining the FEMA buyout process.