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Irene-ravaged homes still coming down - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Irene-ravaged homes still coming down

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JAY, N.Y. -

More than two years ago, Tropical Storm Irene forced hundreds of people from their homes.

Now, a second house in the town of Jay, N.Y., had to be demolished after Irene left it beyond repair.

"We're cleaning up the mess, hauling it away. We have several more to do in Ausable, some in Keene, and several other towns located throughout the county," said Curt Gregory of the Essex County DPW.

Once the empty homes are torn down, the land where they once stood one will stay vacant in order to avoid tragedies like this again.

"Some of these homes that are coming down, people have lived in them generation after generation. It's a sad day when you're tearing their homes down. You lose your identity, you lose your tax base, you lose families-- some of them moved out of state," said Randy Douglas, the town of Jay supervisor.

The departure of taxpaying people from the damaged homes in Jay means the town will be losing those tax dollars.

"Assessed values over a few million dollars, so it could have a huge effect on special districts like water and sewer districts," Douglas said.

Homeowners of houses damaged by Irene are in the process of being compensated by a federal government buyback program.

In Vermont, FEMA approved 99 Irene buyouts. Of those 99, 70 houses have been bought and 21 have been demolished so far.

In Northern New York, 34 are approved. Thirty of those are bought and three torn down.

But there are still some homeowners who have the chance to take part in the buyout.

"The '96 flood and the homes that were bought out in '98 in the town of Jay, roughly 20 homes then were only 75 percent appraised value before flooding. This was 100 percent: 75 from the federal government, 25 from the state," Douglas said.

A nearly three-year process with homeowners being reimbursed, and towns feeling the aftermath of Irene for years to come.

Demolition of the storm-damaged homes in the North Country is scheduled to be completed within the next two months.

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