BY JOE OLENICK email@example.com
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — While Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood in city hall discussing flood aid for residents impacted by June 28’s flooding, state workers were on their way west to begin the process in the Falls.
“They’ll be working with the mayor’s people to do an assessment of the damage there, and then, again, we’ll go through the same process,” Cuomo said of this weekend’s storm damage. “The federal government, we’ll ask them for assistance. But we want to make sure the state is there to help, especially on an individual level. We don’t want homeowners who had their homes devastated, their memories destroyed, to be left on their own.”
In order to get an accurate assessment of the damage, Mayor Paul Dyster said the state flood recovery team is setting up a command center in the parking lot of city hall. Residents and business owners who sustained damage in the recent storms are asked to meet with the team from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today.
Following June 28’s flooding in Lockport, the state set aside $2 million for the county to assist recovery efforts for homeowners, businesses and farms.
Lockport homeowners have until the end of August to file an online application seeking state aid, officials said Tuesday.
The New York State Flood Recovery Program will provide Niagara County $2 million in state recovery aid. Cuomo was in Lockport on Tuesday morning to tout the program.
Getting residents some help was the result of Albany and local leaders working together, the governor said. As he spoke in the council chambers, residents looking for aid were meeting with state agencies in the hallway.
“We said, ‘the State of New York will step up to the plate,’” Cuomo said. “We did it without a piece of legislation. We did it on the phone and we took each other’s word for it.”
The flood recovery program will provide $16 million to homeowners, business operators and farmers in all five flood-stricken counties that were declared disaster areas after the heavy late June rainfall. All were denied federal aid for private property, but FEMA did approve aid for municipal property.
Aside from Niagara County, Herkimer and Montgomery counties will receive $4 million each and Madison and Oneida counties will be given $3 million each.
The governor’s office said homeowners, small business owners and farmers or farm operations in the designated counties may be eligible to receive grants, subject to the documentation of flood-related damage and uninsured losses. Homeowners may be eligible for up to $31,900 in assistance. Small business owners and farmers or farm operations may be eligible for up to $50,000 in assistance.
As extreme weather events seemingly increase, Cuomo said finding a way to provide assistance and make communities “better,” all while being prepared and spending wisely is tricky.
“It’s taxing the state system overall. ... ” he said. “To the extent that it’s financial assistance, we’re going to have find savings in the state budget. We’re not going to be raising taxes. We’re trying to do the exact opposite. We’re trying to lower taxes, so if we’re providing emergency services, it means we’re going to have to squeeze the dollar tighter in Albany and that’s what we’re there to do.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.