Brooklyn eligible for federal aid after Irene

September 6, 2011 Heather Chin
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Brooklyn residents can breathe a sigh of relief: The borough hasbeen added to the list of New York counties approved by the FederalEmergency Management Agency (FEMA) as eligible for federal disasterassistance following damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

Now, Brooklyn homeowners, renters and small businesses thatsuffered damages and losses as a result of the storm can apply forpublic assistance in the following areas: Individuals andHouseholds Program, Crisis Counseling, Disaster UnemploymentAssistance, USDA food coupons and distribution, USDA foodcommodities, Disaster Legal Services, the Disaster SupplementalNutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Small BusinessAdministration disaster loans.

Funding for emergency work and the repair or replacement offacilities damaged by Hurricane Irene had already been approvedfor 19 other counties in New York that were declared major disasterareas, including the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Richmond (StatenIsland). New York State as a whole had already been approved forfederal assistance.

I am an advocate for as much FEMA money as possible [for recoveryand repair], said Grimm. I believe government should have alimited role, but one of those roles is to keep communitiessafe.

The news comes a day after an outcry from borough, city andstate officials over an omission that some called dreadful.

I am absolutely dumbfounded that federal officials haveexcluded Kings County from a disaster declaration for publicassistance, railed Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz,citing the damaged roadways, downed trees, flooded homes, loss ofpower and mandatory evacuations for thousands of residents such asthose in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Coney Island, whichCongressmember Jerrold Nadler represents.

It is critical that Brooklyn and Manhattan not be excluded fromfederal disaster declaration in any category, said Nadler onThursday, September 1. FEMA must provide both Public andIndividual Assistance to Brooklyn and Manhattan, as Governor[Andrew] Cuomo officially requested.

Congressmember Michael Grimm, whose district includes areas ofDyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend that lost power, wererequired to evacuate, and saw damage from Irene’s powerful windsand waves, agreed.

I am an advocate for as much FEMA money as possible [forrecovery and repair], said Grimm. I believe government shouldhave a limited role, but one of those roles is to keep communitiessafe.

Grimm also pointed out that damage in Brooklyn and New York Citycannot be seen simply by flying overhead via helicopter as in otherstorm-stricken counties. You have to actually go into homes, intobasements to see the impact, he asserted.

According to Markowitz, Brooklyn sustained over $25 million indamage. Some of those losses can be seen everywhere from thedamaged seawall near the 17th Avenue pedestrian bridge and the Bay8th Street bridge to portions of a flooded Belt Parkway and theerosion of Plumb Beach near Sheepshead Bay.

FEMA has stated that Brooklyn had not been left out so much asit had just been added to the list later than other counties were.They added that more counties may be included as they continue toassess damages.

To see if you qualify for assistance, call 1-800-621-3362 orregister online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. If you have a speechdisability or hearing loss, call 1-800-462-7585. If you use 711 orVideo Relay Service, call 1-800-621-3362. All toll-free numbers areopen seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.


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