FEMA, state provide more help for flood victims

Disaster recovery aid from the federal and state governments grew this week to include additional be

Disaster recovery aid from the federal and state governments grew this week to include additional benefits for Schenectady County, an appliance rebate program and no-interest loans for drinking water infrastructure repairs.

Find help

An appliance rebate application can be found starting Monday at www.NYSappliancerebates.com or by calling 1-877-697-6278.

An ongoing assessment of the damage from Tropical Storm Lee has led the Federal Emergency Management Agency to classify Schenectady County as a major disaster area, which means residents will now qualify for individual assistance. The classification elevates the county above the state of emergency that had previously been declared and which limited aid to public assistance for state and local governments.

The individual assistance includes funds to replace essential household items, covers up to 75 percent of the cost of replacing personal property and offers up to 26 weeks of unemployment payments for people who don’t qualify for traditional benefits.

The upgrade in status was welcome news to Schenectady County Legislator Anthony Jasenski, who stressed that Lee, and Hurricane Irene before it, took a great toll on families in the county. “We thank President Obama for recognizing the impact of these storms on our families,” Jasenski said in a statement. “I encourage all residents to register with FEMA regardless of the level of damage they may have sustained.”

Schenectady County joins five other New York counties that were already declared disaster areas due to Tropical Storm Lee. No other Capital Region counties received the designation for Lee, though most already had it for Irene.

Individual assistance for damage done by Irene already was available to Schenectady, Schoharie, Saratoga, Montgomery and Albany counties. As of Wednesday, 999 people in Schenectady County, 1,319 in Schoharie County and 400 in Montgomery County had registered for assistance with FEMA.

How to help

There are many ways to help the people, schools and organizations hurt by the floods. Here are some links and ideas:

The state is also trying to help people replace lost items, with an $8 million grant that will fund a rebate program for appliances to replace those damaged in the recent storms. The rebates will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis and will include $350 for a refrigerator, $2,000 for a furnace and $2,500 for a boiler.

The program is designed to serve as a safety net for people who aren’t covered by FEMA or a personal insurance policy.

The grant program also includes $100 for a dehumidifier, even for people who didn’t own one before the flood, because it is seen as an important tool in making a home habitable again.

The state has also introduced a $25 million emergency fund that will provide no-interest loans to address any problems with drinking water and water treatment facilities as a result of the storms. The loans will be dolled out in amounts up to $1 million and will come from the state Drinking Water and Clean Water Revolving Funds.

State officials predicted these loans will expedite repairs needed to provide safe drinking water.

Categories: Schenectady County

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