N.Y. Adds $25 Million in Flood Aid

New York State announced another $25 million in aid is being made available to residents and businesses in flood-stricken communities.

That money is in addition to a $35 million aid package Gov. George Pataki announced last week to help flood victims in 13 counties in the Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley.

The governor said the additional funds will be used to address potential gaps in insurance coverage and eligibility for residents and businesses trying to recover from three days of record-setting rain that swelled the Susquehanna River and other upstate waterways.

According to the Red Cross, there were 4,759 homes affected by the flooding in five counties — Broome, Tioga, Delaware, Chenango and Otsego. Of that total, 1,078 homes were destroyed.

Pataki said two more disaster assistance service centers would open Friday in Owego and Bainbridge, increasing the number of centers to eight. More than 2,000 people have visited those centers since they opened Monday. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday opened two mobile disaster recovery centers offering flood victims access to telephones and computers.

Officials throughout the flood-ravaged areas continued to update damage assessments as the flood waters receded and more people were able to return to their homes, even if just to get their first look at the damage.

More than 1,000 people have begun receiving financial assistance from New York state, and about 1,800 have signed up to qualify for FEMA help as of Wednesday, officials said.

“With the volume of claims, we’re not sure how long it will take to get to all of them,” said Ruth Pillittere, spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor, which is administering a grant program for eligible individuals and businesses to receive up to $5,000.

Otsego County Social Services Commissioner Daniel Denofrio said state and federal disaster-relief efforts have been inadequate so far in his county, leaving people without food, shelter and financial assistance.

“Were dealing with some people who haven’t eaten in days, people who haven’t been able to change their clothes and they need immediate help,” he said.