NEW YORK (AP) -- A Staten Island neighborhood where three people died during Superstorm Sandy will be the first to get state-sponsored home buyouts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined the planned program during a visit to the borough on Monday.
In remarks made as part of a statewide tour following up on his State of the State address, Cuomo discussed efforts to recover from the devastating late October storm, including plans to rebuild with mitigation measures in place to avoid future damage.
"Let's also recognize that there are some places that Mother Nature owns," Cuomo told the audience at the College of Staten Island. "She may only come to visit every two years or three years or four years. But when she comes to visit, she reclaims the site.
"I want to be there for people and communities who want to say, 'I'm going to give this parcel back to Mother Nature."'
Oakwood Beach, a low-lying oceanfront neighborhood, is one of those areas, the governor said.
"It's been damaged time and time again," he said. "It is in a situation that is very vulnerable."
The neighborhood was swamped with about 12 feet of water during the Oct. 29 storm, which did damage in at least 10 states but hit New York and New Jersey the hardest. Several homes were lifted off their foundations and dumped, in pieces, into the marshland that surrounds the streets. Others were inundated where they stood, including those of Leonard Montalto and John Filipowicz Sr. and his 20-year-old son, John Filipowicz Jr.
The three were among the 23 people killed on Staten Island, which accounted for more than half the 43 deaths in New York City attributed to the storm.
The tightly packed streets of Oakwood Beach were first populated in the 1930s with wooden beach bungalows. Most of those structures were later converted to year-round homes, while some were replaced with larger dwellings.