Buyout wait preventing homeowners from moving on

By Erika Mahoney

September 12, 2013 Updated Sep 13, 2013 at 12:50 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) For hundreds of local people, the weight of their flood damaged homes still rests on their shoulders.

That's because they are still waiting for their homes to close in federal buyout programs.

Two years after Tropical Storm Lee, and boarded-up homes with overgrown lawns are daily reminders of how long the process has taken.

Single mom Andrea Arcangeli breaks down every time she sees her beloved home, now crumbling into the earth.

"As you can imagine, it's hard to come back here," Arcangeli said. "At first I was coming daily. But as time goes on, it's just hard to come back."

Although she is living in a small apartment, she says her house in Fairmont Park will always be her home.

She bought it in 1998, along with flood insurance.

In 2006, flood waters rushed in and she rebuilt. In 2011, the damage was too much.

"The foundation washed away, which we didn't realize right away, obviously until the water had receded. In a way, I sort of look at it like a godsend because it took my decision away from me. I had no choice, I had to leave my home."

She decided to enter the town of Union buyout program a month later, never imagining it would take this long.

"I'm still carrying a mortgage on a property that I can't live on. I want people to know that there are still some of us out here, two years later, that are still waiting to move on."

Arcangeli has piles of paperwork explaining each step, and each delay along the way.

"I know the demolition is going to be the final closure of it, when that day comes. And there is a part of me that is really looking forward to have that closure, so I can try to move on with my life and try to become a whole person again. You just carry this with you everyday."

Arcangeli is not alone. Just as Fairmont Park is dotted with decaying homes, so too is Twin Orchards in the town of Vestal.

"There are a lot of people that have just up and left," Richard Goodnough said.

His flooded home wasn't eligible for the buyout and its future is in the hands of his bank.

This uncertainty is holding Goodnough and Arcangeli back.

"A lot of local politicians have been helping us, but do they see this, do they see that we are still waiting?" asked Arcangeli.

Still, Arcangeli doesn't blame the wait on the town of Union, saying they share the same frustrations.

"We keep pushing and pushing and we do have that fight in us, we have that drive in us, to get this done," Union Supervisor Rose Sotak said.

Sotak said as of Thursday, the town is still waiting to receive special forms from FEMA to fill out income verification before closings and demolitions can begin.

Meanwhile, Town of Vestal Supervisor John Schaffer shared news Tuesday that his residents should have 100 percent of their buyouts covered.

But until her house is down, Arcangeli said it's hard to move forward.