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May 8, 2013 10:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Has $1.7 Billion In Federal Aid To Give Away To Sandy Victims

May 8, 2013 10:33 AM

New York State has made more than $1.7 billion in aid available to home and business owners who suffered damage during Hurricane Sandy, damages that their insurance companies and other resources did not cover.

“It’s been a nightmare,” said Joyce Reller of the damage her house, located on Sylvan Avenue in Flanders, sustained during the fall storm and the effort to make repairs since.

She and her husband, Bill, met with State Department of Financial Services officials in the parking lot of the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton on Tuesday afternoon. They are hoping that the new state funding will help them with the mounting costs of raising their home onto pilings to protect it from flood waters in the future.

“We’re going for a [state] grant, and the way we understand it, this will cover the additional costs,” Ms. Reller said.

The Rellers said the cost of raising their house is going to run $30,000, which they hope will be covered by another state disaster mitigation program. But they added that the ancillary costs of the work, such as upgrading their plumbing and electrical systems, are beyond their reach without financial assistance.

The state had a mobile assistance center in Southampton on Tuesday, where state claims examiners helped town residents file applications for the aid they need.

“We assist people in getting applications done and getting themselves in the system,” Department of Financial Services advisor Martin Schwartzman said. “A case manager will assess the damage and their needs and what was covered by FEMA or their insurance, and where the gaps are.”

The aid program, which is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Rising initiative, was funded from the state’s portion of the $50 billion federal aid package funneled to those states that sustained damage from the giant storm in late October. The money will help homeowners pay for repairing structural damage to their homes that was not covered for some reason by insurance, make improvements that will make them more resilient to damage from future storms, and raise some homes onto pilings to get them out of the reach of flood waters. A portion of the funding will even help homeowners deal with uncooperative insurance companies.

The program also has a small business portion, intended to help companies with fewer than 100 employees that were either damaged or suffered economic hardship due to the storm. Similar to the housing initiative, that portion of the program is designed to cover costs that were not met through other public or private programs or insurance.

The program issues grants of up to $50,000 for uncompensated losses. Local fishing and tourism businesses that also suffered from lost periods of business can also apply.

For more information, call 1-855-NYS-Sandy or visit www.NYSandyHelp.ny.gov.

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