Schumer, Gillibrand seek federal disaster aid from big windstorm

Posted 12 March 2017 at 1:35 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: A tree fell on Catherine Street in Medina and flattened a car and garage.

Press Release, Senate Charles Schumer’s Office

New York’s U.S. senators are seeking federal aid for homeowners, businesses and renters that suffered from Wednesday’s powerful wind storm that knocked power out for hundreds of thousands of people in Upstate New York.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Saturday toured an Irondequoit neighborhood ravaged by Wednesday’s hurricane-force wind storm.

Schumer is teaming up with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to strongly urge the Small Business Administration (SBA) to be ready to swiftly approve any forthcoming requests from New York State for federal support in light of the recent devastating windstorm that battered parts of the state.

An SBA disaster declaration would allow the SBA to offer low-interest loans to renters, homeowners, and businesses to make repairs and replace certain damaged items in the designated counties and in any contiguous counties. Loans could also be made available to businesses that have suffered economic injury due to the storm. Schumer said that the SBA should be on alert and be ready to approve New York State’s request for federal aid if submitted.

“It is critical that we get any available federal resources on the ground as soon as possible, so that Western New Yorkers can recover and rebuild after this severe weather,” said Senator Schumer. “Federal Agencies like SBA and FEMA need to stand at the ready to provide all forms of available aid for impacted homeowners and businesses, should a request for assistance be submitted. This federal disaster assistance is necessary because it will speed the recovery for many recovering families and businesses. I will fight tooth and nail to give Western New Yorkers the peace of mind of knowing that no matter the disaster we will pursue all available federal government aid.”

“The Small Business Administration should move quickly to approve any disaster declaration requests related to this wind storm,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This storm caused enormous damage, and the Rochester-Finger Lakes community may need federal resources to help them recover and rebuild. I am ready to fight for whatever funds are needed to clean up from this storm.”

Over 400 utility poles and numerous trees were knocked down by the wind gusts bringing down 3,000 live power lines that made roads impassable for several days and over 200,000 homes, business, and utility customers lost power. School districts across the region were closed on Thursday, with some closures extending into Friday.

The storm also knocked down trees damaging homes, schools, and businesses from the Finger Lakes to Erie County. Businesses and homes also incurred significant damage, from a dentist office in Monroe which was crushed by a falling tree to a Rochester gas station which suffered from a collapsed roof, and a bowling center in Erie County with roof damage, and other businesses with exterior damage and sheered-away exterior signs.

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that costs will begin to mount for homeowners, residents, and business owners who must clean up debris, replace personal property, and repair uninsured structures, and the availability to tap low-interest federal loans from the SBA will be vital.

Schumer and Gillibrand said residents and homeowners should not be doubly faced with high interest loans simply to ensure they can repair their homes or keep their businesses open. If a disaster caused physical damage to at least 25 homes or business structures in excess of 40% of the uninsured value, the state can apply to the SBA for an SBA Disaster Declaration. Once the agency makes the disaster declaration, the SBA can offer low-interest loans to renters, homeowners, and businesses to make repairs, replace household items, or clean up debris in the designated counties and in any contiguous counties. Schumer further explained that with an SBA physical disaster declaration, the SBA will be able to provide qualified recipients with low interest loans of up to $40,000 to renters and homeowners to repair or replace personal property; up to $200,000 to homeowners to repair or replace damaged homes; and up to $2 million to business owners to repair damaged businesses, or meet financial obligations that could have been met had the storm not occurred. For applicants unable to obtain credit elsewhere, the interest rate would not exceed 4%; for applicants able to obtain credit elsewhere, the interest rate would not exceed 8%.

The loans available with a SBA disaster assistance are as follows:

• Home and Personal Property Loans: Homeowners may apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence. Homeowners and renters may also borrow up to $40,000 to replace or repair personal property that was damaged or destroyed in a disaster.

• Business Physical Disaster Loans: Businesses and most private non-profit organizations may apply for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery, and equipment.

• Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private non-profit organizations that suffer substantial economic injury as a result of the disaster may apply for up to $2 million to meet ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a result of the disaster. These loans are only available to entities that cannot provide for their own recovery from non-governmental sources. A business may receive a maximum of $2 million total from both Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Business Physical Disaster Loans.

This latest push follows a similar successful push in 2014 when Senators Schumer and Senator Gillibrand secured SBA disaster assistance for homeowners, business, and renters in the Village of Penn Yan, Yates and surrounding counties impacted by that summer’s devastating floods and thunderstorms.


Return to top