Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in New York state following Hurricane Irene, a move that allows residents of Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Ulster Counties to receive federal recovery funds for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans to cover property losses, and other recovery efforts. Yesterday Governor Cuomo had written to the president asking him to speed up the availability of funds, to bring assistance to the state without an lengthy review period. Irene is expected to be one of the 10 costliest disasters in U.S. history, with estimated damage totaling “anywhere between $7 billion and $10 billion.”
Cuomo described the upstate towns of Fleischmanns, Margaretville, Prattsville, and Windham as “underwater,” and said that “at least 4,800 people were staying in 70 shelters across the state.” Further, two dams, the Gilboa in Schoharie County, and the Vischer Ferry on the Mohawk River, are at risk of failure. As of yesterday afternoon, 470,000 customers remained without power.
People can start applying for FEMA help tomorrow at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
Federal money is also being made available to state and local governments and some non-profits for emergency repairs in counties including Albany, Bronx, Clinton, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Nassau, New York, Queens, Rensselaer, Richmond, Rockland, Schoharie, Suffolk, Ulster, Warren, and Westchester.
In related Hurricane Irene news, there’s a piece in the New York Times telling the stories of some of those who, tragically, lost their lives in the storm.