Thursday, October 21, 2010

City to Receive Federal Funds for Storm Cleanup

There are still dangerous hanging limbs, cracked sidewalks and trees to be replanted, but New York City won’t have to worry about restoring the damage from the September 16 tornadoes out of its own pockets. Governor David Paterson announced last Thursday that President Obama declared the city a federal disaster area.

Last month’s storms left thousands without power and knocked down hundreds of trees, especially in Middle Village and Forest Hills where straight-line winds of over 100 miles per hour tore through the neighborhoods. Tornados were also reported near Flushing, parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island.

After the storm, state Office of Emergency Management (OEM) officials conducted a detailed assessment of damages with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials. The assessment led to Paterson declaring parts of the city as a disaster area, and now, the federal government agrees.
“[The assessments] demonstrated a strong need for federal assistance,” said Andrew Feeny, Director of State OEM. “Now, we will work closely with FEMA to ensure that the city and its citizens receive all eligible federal aid.”

The federal disaster designation makes the city eligible for funds from FEMA.
Overall, damage and cleanup estimates from state, federal and local officials totaled over $27 million. The federal disaster designation provides 75 percent reimbursement to the city for the costs of response, debris removal and repairs to public property.

“The storm that spawned two tornadoes wreaked a path of devastation the likes of which New York City hasn’t seen in 25 years,” said Governor Paterson. “I thank the President, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and our Congressional Delegation for ensuring New York receives the assistance it so desperately needs.”

Governor Paterson also requested funds from the Individual Assistance program, which would provide homeowners, renters and businesses relief for private property damage. FEMA has not made a designation on the Individual Assistance program, but additional designations may be made at a later date.

Even without Individual Assistance, FEMA’s help will certainly help the city with its ongo- ing cleanup efforts. Everyone understands that there is still plenty of work to do.

Speaking about the federal funds, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens) said, “Providing this much-needed assistance to the city was the right move. We still have more work to do before the mess is finally clean, but this will help.”

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