Cuomo wants State Legislature to approve another $35 million for Lake Ontario flooding victims

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 October 2017 at 11:15 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from May shows sandbags stacked by the shoreline in Kendall.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sent a letter to state legislators who represent Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River communities, urging them to approve an additional $35 million from the state for flooding victims from the high lake levels this year.

Cuomo said he would support a special session of the Legislature to appropriate the additional $35 million for residents with damaged property from the lake.

The state approved $45 million for flooding victims in July and that money hasn’t been enough for all the eligible applicants for the funding.

Cuomo wants to meet the demand “in a time frame that recognizes the urgency of the situation,” he wrote in a letter today to state legislators. “There are other pending issues that could also be addressed at a special session, including the financial hardship the State will face from potential federal cutbacks.”

The letter was sent to eight Assembly members including Steve Hawley and five state senators, including Rob Ortt. Hawley and Ortt both represent the county in the State Assembly.

In the letter, Cuomo said the high waters “did tremendous damage for many months.” New York innovated and tried new equipment, including portable dams and high speed pumps, and also deployed hundreds of National Guard personnel, he said.

For impacted homeowners, legislation enacted in July increased the maximum award from $40,000 to $50,000 and expanded eligibility to include all primary homeowners, as well as non-primary homeowners with income up to $275,000.

Program assistance will reimburse homeowners for eligible losses, including repairs to and restoration of structures, equipment, and other physical damage. The program is being administered through not-for profit housing organizations seeking to help homeowners affected by the flooding.

The governor doesn’t want to wait until April, the next new budget for the state, to increase funding for the flooding victims.

“Many applicants have argued that they simply cannot wait seven months for funding,” Cuomo said in a letter to legislators. “I find their arguments persuasive. The flooding has devastated many families and businesses and has affected the overall economy of the region. I believe the State should fulfill its commitment to these applicants in a timely manner.”

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