Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new round of immediate state disaster recovery assistance to help residents and business owners who incurred damage from last week's flash flooding that severely damaged nearly 150 homes in Yates County in the villages of Branchport, Penn Yan, and Dresden, and the towns of Jerusalem and Italy.
"After last week's devastating flash floods in the Finger Lakes, we have seen communities stand together and work hand-in-hand to help their fellow neighbors start to recover," Governor Cuomo said. "We have seen time and again the serious damage that floods cause to homes and businesses. We are making this funding and assistance available to help home and small business owners get back on their feet and start the process of rebuilding."
Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy said, "Seeing the damage firsthand last week in Penn Yan showed a remarkable spirit of community and strength, with every man, woman and child lending a helping hand to start the path to recovery. I am proud that this region stood together courageously in the wake of disaster. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, the state is responding and helping the families and businesses hit by extreme weather, and I encourage anyone eligible to apply for the assistance being offered."
In the immediate wake of these most recent floods, the Governor is deploying disaster assistance recovery units and insurance specialists to Yates County to help victims navigate issues with their insurance companies, so that they can properly claim and receive whatever payments they are entitled to under the terms of their insurance policy. Disaster Recovery Assistance staff will be helping residents and businesses complete applications at Penn Yan Fire Dept., 125 Elm Street, Penn Yan, 14527, on Friday, May 23rd from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm; and on Saturday, May 24th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for Yates County on May 14, 2014, which is in effect until May 28, 2014. Being made available is up to $10,000 in disaster assistance for affected homeowners and renters struggling to recover, and as much as $25,000 in recovery funds for small businesses. This new state disaster program provides emergency disaster funds where it's needed most, as supplemental assistance to start recovery for victims who are uninsured or under-insured and fills gaps in recovery assistance.
The Yates County Disaster Recovery Assistance Program is being coordinated through New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). Since 2011, the agencies have coordinated disaster response and recovery for Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, Superstorm Sandy, last summer's flooding in the Mohawk Valley and Niagara County -- and now this month's flooding in Yates County.
Last week's two storms with severe drenching rains pounded Yates County, and caused several small creeks to surge over their banks, leaving millions in damage to property and businesses. Nearly 150 homes and 20 businesses need immediate assistance to jumpstart disaster recovery.
HCR Commissioner & CEO Darryl C. Towns said, "With the frequency of flooding over the last two years, we've seen what works best in helping communities recover -- and the most important determinant of recovery has been getting help and information to victims as quickly as possible. Under the Governor's leadership, working with DFS and DHSES, we now have a rapid response assistance model dedicated to bringing resources to where they are needed to help homeowners and renters rebuild."
Superintendent of Department of Financial Services Benjamin M. Lawsky said, "We walk policyholders through their rights, helping them navigate the claims process and empowering them by giving them the tools to help move their claims more quickly after a disaster. And we stand at their side making sure that victims receive the compensation they are entitled to under the terms of their policy."
DHSES Commissioner Jerome M. Hauer said, "We have heard from people and the community struggling in these Finger Lakes communities who need help now. This program provides a ground-up recovery approach to quick, effective disaster assistance to help residents and businesses get back on their feet."
State Senator Thomas F. O'Mara said, "We appreciate and are grateful for Governor Cuomo and his administration's swift response to help Yates County residents and businesses begin to recover and rebuild. The damage is devastating, and this state assistance and continued state and federal support will be vital to the short- and long-term restoration of local communities and the local economy."
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said, "I visited the Penn Yan area after the devastating flooding and I've seen firsthand the extensive damage to home, businesses and public infrastructure. While I understand this has been a frustrating process for local residents, I am encouraged by today's announcement of help from the governor's office. It is critical to Yates County's ability to recover from this horrible event and much appreciated. I, along with Sen. Tom O'Mara, have been in direct contact this past week with numerous state agencies looking for help for local property owners and businesses, and I will continue to coordinate our efforts with federal, state and local agencies in our quest to get much needed assistance to Yates County."
Chair of the Yates County Legislature Dr. Timothy Dennis said, "The flood damage to homes is significant and the clean-up has to begin quickly before mold and other issues become compounded and catastrophic. I thank the Governor for supporting our County in its distress and forging this recovery initiative. Together, we will rebuild."
Impacted Yates County homeowners and renters will be able to apply directly to the state for assistance. Eligibility will be based on the applicants providing confirmation their damage is a direct result of the Finger Lakes' flooding from May 2014, and is for damages not already covered by existing insurance policies. Affected homeowners, renters and small business owners who qualify must submit an application within 15 days of today's announcement of the program.
Homeowners, for whom the flood impacted property is a primary residence, can apply for assistance for the following eligible recovery costs: repair and/or replacement of damaged foundations, roofs, windows, doors, siding, flooring, drywall, insulation, bathrooms, garages, and electrical systems; replacement of kitchen cabinets, well/septic systems, non-luxury residential appliances; and remediation of environmental hazards. Renters' eligible costs include replacement of damaged clothing, small sofas, tables, buffets, credenzas, kitchen table and chairs, beds and dressers, desk, computers, and home office equipment.
Eligible applicants will receive either immediate or full assistance:
Immediate assistance in the minimum amount of $100 for homeowners and renters and a minimum amount of $500 for small businesses will be made available to cover the urgent recovery need(s) of applicants providing sufficient supporting documentation of incurred expenses; such as receipts, invoices, contractor estimates, or insurance estimates related to disaster recovery efforts. An additional amount of assistance, up to the maximum allowable for the Program ($10,000 Homeowners/Renters; $25,000 Small Businesses) will be made available upon the submission, review and certification of subsequent documentation for related and eligible recovery costs.
Full assistance up to the maximum amount allowable for the Program ($10,000 Homeowners/Renters; $25,000 Small Businesses) will be made available upon the submission, review and certification of receipts, invoices, contractor estimates, or insurance estimates for related and eligible recovery costs, if these documents are furnished at the initial point of application.
At the Governor's direction, DHSES has requested that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) assess damage to homes and businesses, which will begin next week in collaboration with State and County officials. SBA's Physical Disaster Loan Program offers low interest loans for eligible businesses, renters, homeowners and private non-profit organizations. DHSES has separately asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assess storm impacts with state and local officials to determine what aid may be available to repair damaged public infrastructure, if the damage reaches the federal threshold for disaster assistance. FEMA uses a statewide per-capita threshold and other factors to determine if a federal major disaster declaration will be granted and its Public Assistance (PA) program will be provided. Through the PA program, up to 75% of the cost of damages to publicly-owned infrastructure may be reimbursed.