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Conn. Homeowners Face Stark Choices After Sandy

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) â¿¿ Jackie Beagon loved her life along the Connecticut coast, where she and her husband walked to the beach and church and bicycled around the neighborhood. But Superstorm Sandy ripped it all apart, and the couple was forced to sell their flood-ravaged home in Fairfield, where they lived for a quarter of a century.

"We were extremely overwhelmed and didn't know what to do," Beagon said. "The money just kept adding up. We didn't just lose a place to sleep. We lost 25 years of our life."

Beagon and her husband James, who are renting an apartment in Stratford, are among hundreds of homeowners in Connecticut facing stark choices after the storm flooded their homes four months ago: Sell, demolish and rebuild or elevate. Some are selling because it's too costly or overwhelming to rebuild, while others are taking on huge debts and enduring many months out of their homes while they repair and elevate.

In flood zones, houses must comply with current sea level elevation requirements if the cost to repair damage exceeds half the value of the structure, excluding the value of the land, officials say.

The issue is also playing out in harder-hit New Jersey, where about 346,000 homes and businesses were damaged by the storm and the state's two U.S. senators have called for the federal government to help homeowners elevate their homes.

In Connecticut, about 3,000 homes were damaged by Sandy, including about 500 that received major damage, state officials said.

In Fairfield, 100 to 200 homes suffered that level of damage and homeowners will have to elevate, demolish or sell, said Jim Wendt, assistant planning director. So far, 12 permits have been issued to elevate houses, he said, noting that many homeowners are waiting on insurance settlements and looking into other potential funding sources.

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