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2 Weeks Left To Apply For Storm Disaster Assistance

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-995749.mp3

Poughkeepsie, NY – The clock is ticking down for New Yorkers who have yet to apply for disaster assistance from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

Irene and Lee are long gone. The infrastructure has been restored and those whose property was damaged or lost in the wake of the storms are on the road to recovery. But there are still a few problems: New York senior U.S. Senator Charles Schumer says preliminary data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests nearly 40 percent of claims from Hurricane Irene and 50 percent of claims for Tropical Storm Lee are still outstanding.

Meanwhile, New York junior U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is urging those New Yorkers who haven't filed for assistance from FEMA or in the case of businesses, the Small Business Association, to so so before the December 15th deadline.

FEMA's Chris McKniff says 26-thousand state residents have availed themselves of advice on storm repairs and cleanup. McKniff reminds us FEMA aid is designed to provide funds for expenses that are not covered by insurance. Senator Schumer criticized insurance providers, saying they quote ---"shouldn't be the molasses slowing down our recovery from these devastating storms." Data FEMA provided to Senator Schumer's office this week shows that flood insurance companies received 14,500 claims related to damage from Tropical Storm Irene, but only 62% had been processed.

The storms proved an ultimate test for utilities as they struggled to keep up with outage calls and resolve other problems that resulted from the flooding. Repair crews from as far away Kansas, Florida and Canada were brought in to help with service restorations. Central Hudson had a significant infrastructure-related issue: concern that the Walkway Over the Hudson might fall and hit its propane facility in Poughkeepsie. Thankfully, that didn't happen. National Grid doesn't know the actual costs of Irene and Lee, but concedes the final price could rise to $35 million. Company spokesperson Patrick Stella says the utility assisted homeowners by helping pay electric inspection fees after repairs had been made.

For FEMA Assistance, those affected may visit http://www.disasterassistance.gov/, apply online at http://m.fema.gov/ or call 800-621-3362.

The SBA provides low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and organizations to repair or replace property, equipment, inventory and business assets that were damaged in a disaster.

For SBA Assistance, those affected may call the SBA's Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or send an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan application forms can be downloaded from www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. Those affected by the disasters may also apply for disaster loans electronically from SBA's website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

For Hurricane Irene, residents, businesses, and communities in Albany, Bronx, Clinton, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Herkimer, Kings, Montgomery, Nassau, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Queens, Rensselaer, Richmond, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, Warren, Washington, and Westchester Counties are eligible to apply for funding.

For Tropical Storm Lee, residents, businesses, and communities in Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Fulton, Oneida, Orange, Otsego, Schenectady, Schoharie, Tioga and Ulster Counties are eligible to apply for funding.