In the wake of the severe flooding and damage caused by tropical storms Irene and Lee, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced a new program to give several hundred unemployed New Yorkers temporary work in rebuilding and reconstruction efforts. The NY Works: Neighborhood Rebuilding Corps will hire part-time workers for roughly 20 weeks, and they will receive an average wage of $15 an hour. The state has received an emergency grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for up to $16 million.
Cuomo, who met with his Upstate Storm and Flooding Recovery Task Force today, also announced penalty- and interest-free school-tax extensions for people in affected areas, and a waiver of certain fees or payments for the replacement of state documents that were lost or damaged (including documents from the departments of Motor Vehicles, State, Education, Health and Taxation and Finance, and the state Liquor Authority). School districts in affected districts should apply for an extension from the state Department of Tax and Finance as soon as possible.
“Over the past weeks, New Yorkers have stood together, neighbor helping neighbor, and supported each other as we recover from Hurricane Irene and the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Since the storms first came on the radar, state agencies and local governments have been working around the clock to keep New Yorkers safe and to rebuild as quickly as possible. Although much work has been done, there is still a long way to go and today we are leveraging additional state resources and calling on the federal government to provide further help so those affected by these storms can return to life as normal.”
The governor said he made a number of requests in a letter today to President Obama. They include:
—A waiver to expand eligibility for flood insurance for homeowners and farms to retroactively enroll in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program and enroll in crop insurance and the non-insured crop disaster assistance program so they can be eligible for all U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency Disaster Assistance programs.. Many homeowners and farmers are without flood insurance. “Unless federal requirements are relaxed, they will be unable to obtain compensation for loss or damage to their homes, resulting in the potential loss of entire neighborhoods and communities,” Cuomo said.
—A waiver of limitations on FEMA-funded property acquisitions so homeowners that have been repeatedly flooded and want to participate in a buyout can get fair-market value for their homes.
—A suspension by the IRS of certain requirements for state-supported housing to allow owners and managers to rent properties to flood victims who might not otherwise meet strict income and age restrictions. The state has identified hundreds of units of vacant housing and buildings that receive Low Income Housing Tax Credits that are in the emergency regions or adjacent regions or counties.
—A waiver of U.S. Housing and Urban Development requirements so displaced homeowners can move into foreclosed properties. About 3,000 buildings around the state have sustained major damage or were totally destroyed, leaving many residents in need of housing.
—A streamlining of Small Business Administration application requirements for loans. To date, the administration has only approved 17 out of 464 loan applications.
—A waiver of FEMA restrictions on reimbursement for debris removal. Doing so would allow debris to be cleared a quarter mile from improved infrastructure.
—Granting New York access to the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which would provide money to clear debris-clogged channels, fortify undermined and unstable stream banks and handle threats to water control and other public infrastructure.
These are the school districts that are requesting extensions, and more may be added:
Broome: Binghamton; Chenango-Forks; Chenango Valley; Deposit; Johnson; Susquehanna Valley; Union-Endicott; Vestal
Delaware: Andes; Roxbury; Sidney; Stamford
Greene: Catskill; Hunter-Tannersville
Schoharie: Jefferson; Schoharie; Sharon Springs
Ulster: Marlboro; Onteora; New Paltz
Washington: Granville; Hartford; Salem
Orange: Warwick Valley; Washingtonville