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Schumer Announces Push For Legislation That Would Allow The Small Business Administration To Offer Grants To Disaster Victims

Touring the Village of Mamaroneck, Schumer Gets First Hand Look at Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers

Calls on President to Immediately Issue Disaster Declaration to Release All Available Assistance to Residents and Communities

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is working on new legislation which would allow small businesses devastated by natural disasters to be eligible for much needed grant funding. Under the current Small Business Administration disaster assistance program, businesses are only eligible for loans after a disaster. Schumer also expressed his strong support for legislation championed by Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who joined him on a tour of the area last week, to revamp the Small Business Administration's (SBA) disaster loan program.

"The rain and the flooding this week hit communities in the Hudson Valley very hard and they are just beginning the recovery process. Homes, businesses, dams and streets were under water and dealing with the mess could cost millions of dollars," Schumer said. "FEMA needs to come through with aid fast to ensure these communities can get back on their feet. Over the long term, my legislation will provide a vital lifeline to business who need direct assistance to recover from the storms."

On Wednesday, Governor Eliot Spitzer wrote to President Bush and FEMA Director R. David Paulison to request federal assistance. He requested that President Bush issue a major disaster declaration for New York City and Westchester, Orange, Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Nassau, Putnam, Rockland, Schoharie, Suffolk and Ulster counties. This request must now be approved by the President before federal aid is released.

If the disaster declaration is approved by the President, federal aid will be released to local governments, individuals and businesses that are eligible. FEMA teams will be deployed to help with the application process. Under current law, small businesses affected by the floods are only eligible for loans from the Small Business Administration. SBA currently awards physical disaster loans to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, including inventory, and supplies, and economic injury disaster loans, which provide capital to small businesses to assist them through the disaster recovery period. Schumer today announced that he will introduce legislation creating a new program that would give direct grants to businesses that are affected by a major natural disaster. The requirements would be rigorous and the program limited to small businesses, but this would be an invaluable lifeline to businesses who fall on the brink of collapse after a disaster.

Schumer also expressed his strong support for legislation cosponsored by Congresswoman Nita Lowey. Her legislation, passed by the House on Wednesday, demands that the SBA develop a comprehensive disaster response plan and maintain a trained disaster reserve corps of 1,000 people. It increases loan limits from $1.5 million to $3 million and expands the scope of businesses that can qualify for SBA disaster loans. The bill now goes to the Senate.


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