A day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with residents in Keene, Pres. Barack Obama signed a bill declaring Essex County as a major disaster area and Clinton County as a disaster area, opening up funding for municipalities as well as private homeowners and businesses.
Warren, Essex and Clinton counties are among 19 counties in New York State designated in a federal disaster declaration signed Wednesday that pre-qualifies partial funding of restoration of local public infrastructure stemming from destruction caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
President Barack Obama signed the declaration that allows roadways, bridges, culverts, public buildings and other facilities to be repaired in Warren, Essex, Clinton, Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Bronx, Rensselaer, Greene, Montgomery, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Schoharie, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester counties.
The declaration also specifies that assistance will be available to individuals and enterprises with qualifying losses in Essex, Delaware, Dutchess, Albany, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Ulster counties.
This individual assistance designation sets the stage for individuals and businesses suffering storm-related property destruction in those eight counties to receive grants up to $30,000 and low-interest loans to recover and rebuild.
Tropical storm Irene roared through the Eastern Adirondack region Sunday Aug. 28, dumping up to eight inches of rain that swelled dozens of creeks that became raging rivers, ripping out bridges and highways, pushing houses off their foundations, flooding homes and businesses. High winds of the storm felled trees that sliced through homes, crushed vehicles and whipped up waves that sank boats on area waterways.
During a tour Wednesday of upstate storm-damaged areas, Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed appreciation to the Obama administration for the declaration, and he estimated losses in New York State to top $1 billion.
The assistance for public infrastructure reimburses 75 percent of losses, and the state normally contributes 12.5 percent of the remainder, leaving local municipalities to pay the remaining 12.5 percent, Warren County Emergency Services Coordinator Amy Drexel said late Wednesday.
She said that Warren County may also declared eligible for individual assistance after all the losses are calculated. She said the threshold set for such compensation is documentation of 25 properties completely destroyed or suffering severe damage.
Drexel and Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish urged owners of homes and businesses suffering damages to submit information as soon as possible on the damage and losses to their respective departments.
Doing so will expedite the process for obtaining public and private aid, Jaquish said.
Instructions and forms on storm-related claims are available on the counties’ website at: ww.co.warren.ny.us and www.co.essex.ny.us
Applications can be also be made to FEMA at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-462-7585, but all applications should be routed through the counties to boost efforts to obtain eligibility for individual assistance, Drexel said.