03.11.17

SCHUMER TOURS WEST IRONDEQUOIT NEIGHBORHOOD IMPACTED BY WEDNESDAY’S WIND STORM; URGES FEDS TO BE READY TO ACT

Senators Send Letter Urging Feds To Be Ready To Act On Any Disaster Request To Assist Rochester-Finger Lakes Homeowners, Renters & Businesses Dealing with the Aftermath of Wednesday’s Historic Windstorm 

If Fed Threshold is Met, Rochester-Finger Lakes Homeowners, Businesses, Renters Will Be Eligible for Low-Interest SBA Disaster Loans to Help Recover From Severe Damage To Many Homes & Businesses 

Senators To SBA & FEMA: Stand At The Ready To Help Rochester

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today toured a 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."

Schumer and Gillibrand said hurricane-force winds swept into New York on March 8, 2017, lasting several hours and affecting counties across the Rochester-Finger Lakes, Western NY, and Southern Tier regions.  Monroe County experienced wind gusts reaching 81 miles per hour, the second highest gust ever recorded in the region. Over 400 utility poles and numerous trees were knocked down by the wind gusts bringing down 3000 live power lines that made roads impassable for several days and over 200,000 homes, business, and utility customers lost power. The near record-setting wind partially shored off the Greece Arcadia Middle School roof in Monroe County and damaged another school’s roofs in Chautauqua and Niagara Counties. 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 business with exterior damage and sheered-away exterior signs.  Towns in Monroe County, including Irondequoit and Greece, remain under Town-Designated States of Emergency.

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.

A copy of Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter to the SBA appear below:

Dear SBA Administrator McMahon:

We write to bring your attention to a critical situation impacting homeowners, businesses, and renters across several counties across the Rochester Finger Lakes, Western New York, and Southern Tier regions caused by a devastating wind storm. The counties in conjunction with New York State will now begin the process of assessing damage to businesses, homeowners, and municipalities. We urge you to work with affected counties and the State of New York to determine whether damage meets the statutory disaster threshold for Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster assistance, and if it does, to make assistance available as expeditiously as possible.

 This major wind storm swept into New York on March 8, 2017, lasting several hours with counties like Monroe County experiencing wind gusts reaching 81 miles per hour, the second highest gust ever recorded in the region. Over 200,000 homes, business, and utility customers lost power. Hundreds of utility poles and trees were knocked down by the wind gusts, exposing live power lines that made roads impassable for days. The knocked down trees damaged homes, schools, and businesses from the Finger Lakes to Erie County. Reports revealed businesses and homes that incurred significant damage, such as a dentist’s office in Monroe County that was crushed by a falling tree, a Rochester gas station with a collapsed roof, and bowling center in Erie County with roof damage, and other business with exterior damage and sheered-away exterior signs. The near record-setting wind also partially shored off the Greece Arcadia Middle School roof in Monroe County and damaged another schools roofs in Chautauqua and Niagara Counties. School districts across the region were closed on Thursday, with some closures extending into Friday.

As costs begin to mount for homeowners, residents, and business owners who must clean up debris, replace personal property, and repair uninsured structures, the availability to tap low-interest federal loans from the SBA will be vital. 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. We are grateful for the prompt attention that the federal government has historically given to quickly responding to disasters impacting New York State. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to approve any forthcoming requests for SBA assistance as New York recovers from these storms.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer  

U.S. Senator                            

Kirsten E. Gillibrand

U.S. Senator

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