Both private properties and public infrastructure in Warren, Essex and Clinton counties are eligible for grants and low-interest loans for repairing damages suffered by Tropical Storm Irene, according to action taken by the Obama administration.
The three counties are among 19 counties in New York State designated in a federal disaster declaration signed Aug. 31 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.
Clinton and Essex counties were added to the list Sept. 2 in a follow-up announcement, after local officials submitted details of losses to private property.
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 8 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. Losses in New York state may top $1 billion, according to state officials.
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, expressing joy over the individual assistance designation.
“This is wonderful and I’m ecstatic,” Drexel said. “With so many houses suffering catastrophic damage, this is really needed in Warren County.”
Drexel urged that everyone who may have already contacted her office or local officials about their losses, — along with all others who suffered losses — must now contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency as 1-800-621-FEMA to start the process of applying for compensation.
Grants of up to $30,000 are available to property owners of primary residences. The new designation for Warren County also means that businesses in the county are eligible to apply for low-interest loans for recovery from storm damages.
Lake George Town Supervisor Frank McCoy, who had lobbied state and federal officials last week for the federal designation, said he was happy about the eligibility decision.
“This is the best news we could possibly have at this point for the citizens in our county,” he said. “There have been a large number of people who have suffered substantial storm losses, and hopefully this will ease some of the pain they’ve suffered and help them recover financially.”
Doing so will expedite the process for obtaining public and private aid, Jaquish said.