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Windham gets its loan from Albany

Nov 29, 2011 3:17 am
Governor Andrew Cuomo's Upstate Storm and Recovery Task Force announced Monday in Windham that they are indeed giving the Town of Windham a five-year, no-interest loan of $882,000. Last week voters in Windham approved the town taking out a million dollar loan to fix the Windham-Ashland-Jewett school damaged by the flooding associated with Hurricane Irene. At the meeting, Governor Cuomo also announced that he has asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for FEMA to cover 90 percent of the recovery costs instead of the normal 75 percent. Many local towns including Windham and Prattsville are facing enormous clean-up bills if FEMA only covers 75 percent of the costs, and are wondering how they will ever raise enough to clean up all the damage. Cuomo also announced $1.5 million in grants to help small businesses in nine municipalities in three counties in the first round of awards from the $3 million Main Street Fund to help local businesses recover. Other items from the Upstate Storm and Recovery Task Force meeting in Windham:
• Main Street Fund
Greene, Schoharie, and Delaware counties are each receiving $500,000 through the New York State Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund to provide money to Main Street businesses money to rehabilitate buildings for commercial and main street residential use, repair and replace permanent fixtures and equipment, as well as for inventory and working capital. In Greene County: Prattsville, Hunter, Windham, and Catskill will get funds; in Schoharie County: Middleburgh and Schoharie; in Delaware County: Margaretville, Fleischmanns and Sidney.
• Highway Repairs
More than 400 road segments and bridges were closed on the state highway system after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee hit the area last summer. As of November 28, three highways and three bridges remain closed.
• Assistance for New York Farms
The State Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued contracts to 25 Conservation Districts for over 353 awarded farms ($4,519,817) using the $15 million Agricultural Community Recovery Fund. Construction and farmland restoration is underway on many if not all of the most devastated farms. The program also has a farm operations component to aid farmers who lost feed in the flood and farmers who have continued operation of their farm stands, farmers' markets efforts and CSAs. For this program, 196 applications have been submitted, and grants will be distributed in the near future.

As of now, 15 municipalities will receive a total of $14,072,000 in five-year, no-interest loans:

· Town of Bethlehem- $1,000,000
· City of Binghamton- $1,000,000
· Town of Black Brook- $1,000,000
· Town of Cornwall- $1,000,000
· Village of Ellenville- $1,000,000
· Village of Endicott- $1,000,000
· Village of Granville- $1,000,000
· Town of Jay- $1,000,000
· Village of Johnson City- $1,000,000
· Town of Lloyd- $1,000,000
· Village of Monticello- $690,000
· Town of Owego $1,000,000
· Village of Owego- $500,000
· Village of Schoharie- $1,000,000
· Town of Windham- $882,000

Insurance Claims

Following Irene and Lee, Governor Cuomo, Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky and other state officials traveled to the hardest hit areas of the state and heard many complaints from citizens and business owners that insurers were slow to respond in handling their claims, which they desperately needed to rebuild and recover. In response, DFS today sent a letter to New York property insurance companies informing them that they are required to follow New York rules for fairness and promptness when servicing customers with federal flood insurance.

For most homeowners and businesses, insurance policies bought from the National Flood Insurance Program are the only protection against flood damage. The Superintendent's letter affirms that when New York insurers are handling claims under federal flood insurance, the insurers are still subject to state regulation requiring prompt and fair claims handling.

New York Insurance Regulation 64 sets reasonable standards for insurers to respond to policyholders of any type of insurance sold in the state. For example, it sets time frames that require insurers to:

· Respond to communications from policy holders within 15 business days.
· Commence an investigation within 15 business days of receiving a notice of claim from an insured.
· Notify the insured in writing of the insurer's acceptance or rejection of a claim within 15 business days, or notify the insured that more time is needed and the reason for the additional time.
· Notify the insured in writing of the specific reason for any denial of any part of a claim.

In addition, Regulation 64 has fairness rules, such as prohibiting an insurer from not attempting in good faith to reach prompt, fair and equitable settlements of claims or from forcing policyholders to sue by offering very low settlements.

Funds for Repairing or Replacing Furnaces

On November 16, Governor Cuomo announced that $5 million in funding has been made available to help repair and replace furnaces damaged as a result of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Funding is still available for this program, and to apply, homeowners should directly contact the Weatherization Assistance provider that serves their area. A list of providers can be found at: http://nysdhcr.gov/Apps/profiles/profile_WAPcnty.asp

Households cannot have liquid resources exceeding $5,000 and must meet certain income eligibility guidelines, which can be found at http://nysdhcr.gov/Programs/WeatherizationAssistance/.

For more information about furnace repairs or replacement call 1-866-ASK-DHCR.

Department of State's Long-Term Community Recovery Program

The Long Term Community Recovery Program will help towns and villages with technical expertise as they develop recovery strategies and design rebuilding projects to reestablish vibrant communities that are less vulnerable to future flooding. The program will provide financial assistance, up to $50,000 per grant, on a competitive basis. The grants will provide money to hire technical experts, consultants, and fund comprehensive strategic planning for the rebuilding of housing, economic, infrastructure and environmental projects. Applications may be submitted by affected municipalities or by counties or not-for-profits on their behalf. The total amount of grant funds presently available for this program is $789,896. The round 1 application deadline is January 12, 2012 at 4:00 p.m., and the round 2 deadline is March 1, 2012 at 4:00 p.m.

FEMA Assistance

Approximately 59,331 people have registered for Individual Assistance and more than $145 million has been disbursed through the Individual and Households Program / Other Needs Assistance. The Individual Assistance registration deadline is December 15, 2011.

The Small Business Administration has approved 1,567 applications totaling $69.5 million for damages from Hurricane Irene and 686 applications for $32.8 million for damages from Tropical Storm Lee.

Public Assistance projects 4,315 Sub-Grant Applications (SGAs) for Hurricane Irene and 1,278 SGAs for Tropical Storm Lee. Of these, 95 SGAs, estimated at $3,135,850, are have been filed for Hurricane Irene; and 24 SGAs, estimated at $583,578, have been filed for Tropical Storm Lee.

State agencies, including the Department of State's Codes Division, State Office of Emergency Management (SOEM), and the Department of Environmental Conservation, have been working with FEMA to ensure that any codes related issues, including placement of temporary housing units in floodplains, can be addressed promptly and safely. FEMA requires that 200 AMP utility service be available for temporary housing units and SOEM has been working with the State Public Service Commission to ensure that utility companies are responsive to FEMA's needs to get service upgraded where it is needed. SOEM and DOT have worked to expedite the permits for companies hauling the temporary housing units on state roads and to grant blanket waivers to enable companies to work without having to request permits repeatedly.

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