A TIME TO CUT...

Thu., November 20, 11:23 AM

Today’s title comes from a President Kennedy quote I like. He would begin the passage from Eccliastes: “… a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance …” and finish with “… a time to fish and a time to cut bait.”

Let me remind you how our street looked after Hurricane Irene:

Brenda

And when the water began to recede. Receding

That was the first flood, after forty years of dry basement . A year later, the water was twice as high. We were officially in a flood zone, and we were required to buy flood insurance. (I did not have the money to do that.)

Now, as much I want to get rid of this house, I cannot in good faith offer it to anyone. My daughter had always hoped to own the house someday, but now she is afraid to live in it. Exactly what am I supposed to do?

The following is a letter I sent to the local newspaper last year concerning — more than anything else — the poor land management of the last thirty years or so. I didn ’t expect it to be published.

Regarding the approval of the Inland Wetlands Agency for the new magnet school on the Boston Post Road in West Haven, maybe someone should check that again.

Over the past years, the supposedly protected wetlands in West Haven have been very badly mismanaged, as many residents can attest. The result has been flooding and weeds on formerly dry properties. (I was pulling swamp weeds out of my lawn this morning.)

No person or agency will take responsibility for this. A meeting with the mayor, residents’ organizations — all result in lots of talk and no action. Do we have to wait until foundations fall apart from underground flooding before anyone notices?

A couple of months after that, my daughter and I attended another meeting. To a room full of traumatized homeowners, an employee of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service explained a program that was being considered for our city. (I think that, actually, the city runs the program under the supervision of the NRCS.) Very basically, it would buy up flooded properties like mine, demolish the buildings, and restore it to its original (?) state. The character of the neighborhood has changed over the years, and I don’t consider it a good place to live any more.

FEMA has a similar program (we could sign up for either or both), on the theory that it costs them less to buy and clear the property than it does to continually offer post-flood relief.

At a follow-up meeting, I realized that some people had it worse than we did. We did not have fish in the yard or wildlife in the basement. Sure, our basement was ruined — again — but our kitchen and bedrooms were intact. We did not lose power and were not, like those who lived nearer to the water, forced to find other accommodations until their homes were brought back up to code.

We also found out that the land management was even worse than we thought. Not only was the estuary to our west clogged with trash, but the “dyke” that should have given us some protection had been removed. Furthermore, so-called protected areas had been either paved or actually been built upon.

There were old-time residents at the meeting, who have lived here even longer than we have, and they absolutely don’t want to leave. Their view is, the city caused the damage, and the city should fix it. They don’t see that we have gone beyond the point of no return; it can no longer be fixed.

It really is time to “cut bait”; the fishing is dead. I have not mentioned all this previously because I didn’t think it was a sure thing. It seemed to be proceeding very slowly, but it was proceeding. I try to keep in touch with the current manager. It took a month to approve appraisers, and another couple of months before we were sent an offer. We had a deadline to respond — and I did — and it looked as if closing was about to happen. That was September.

And then the manager, who knew no more than we did, asked the powers that be and was told that closing will probably be … in May. That means at least one more tax payment and insurance on the empty house. It also means paying for at least eight months’s worth of electricity and water so that the house doesn’t fall apart. In the midst of all this rebudgeting, I get a notice that the Department of Social Services thinks I should be paying more for my husband’s care. (And believe me, it ain’t that great.)

I figured I should get this into writing now, since I may not last until the Department of Agriculture makes up its mind.

A time to cut bait? I think it’s time to cut the crap. Pardon my French.





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