New York State Releases Plans for $1.7B in Sandy Funds

By VERENA DOBNIK | March 14, 2013

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced statewide plans Tuesday to use $1.7 billion in federal storm-damage funds for home repairs, government buyouts of property in flood-prone areas, low-interest loans, flood-prevention measures, and other recovery work.

Most of the money will go to homeowners and businesses hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy last October. It also will be used for improvements at hospitals and nursing homes evacuated during Sandy.

And some funds will be used to repair damage from storms Irene and Lee.

Sandy “was the worst storm to hit New York state and our region in recorded history,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This plan … will serve as a blueprint to guide our housing and private sector recovery.”

The money will be used around the state, including on Long Island, under the so-called Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program. The exception is New York City, which has a separate allocation.

The governor said more than $230 million will be used for home repair and reconstruction, more than $170 million to cover voluntary buyouts to residents in flood areas, and nearly $260 million to reduce the risk of future damage.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development still has to approve the projects.

The money comes from a package of Sandy-related federal aid approved by Congress in January and signed into law by President Barack Obama. New York and New Jersey were the states hardest hit by the superstorm, but others will share in the relief package.

As many as 300,000 homes across New York were damaged; about two-thirds of properties flooded by Sandy were not covered by insurance. At least 60 people were killed in New York state.

To bring back business, New York proposes using $415 million to help replace or repair lost or damaged inventory, equipment and facilities. Special grants of up to $100,000 would cover expenses such as installing backup generators or elevating equipment to help prevent damage in future disasters. A program of low-interest loans of up to $1 million would be offered to rebuild facilities – or more for those at risk of closure or significant employment loss.

Severely damaged coastal fishing operations also would benefit, as would Long Island’s tourism industry, upstate agriculture operations and whole communities that suffered infrastructure damage.

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