State sets aside $50 million for flood relief

Above: Video from the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin of Cuomo's visit to the Greater Binghamton Airport to sign flood relief legislation. The ceremony begins around the 5-minute mark; slide the bar to the 5-minute mark to skip ahead.

This just in: Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law a bill setting aside $50 million for disaster relief, including $9 million for county flood control projects and a $21 million fund to distribute grants of up to $20,000 for businesses, farms, multiple dwelllings and nonprofts that were damaged by flooding from Irene and Lee.

A press release issued late this morning:


In Broome County, Governor Also Announces $1.3 Million in Additional Disaster Aid for Farms, $1 Million to Main Street Businesses; $3 Million to Hire Unemployed New Yorkers to Help with Flood Recovery in Southern Tier

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today traveled to Johnson City, Broome County, to sign into law $50 million in additional relief for areas devastated by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

To help businesses, farms, and communities in hard hit areas, Governor Cuomo announced a series of additional measures including: $1 million to businesses in Broome and Tioga counties as part of the second round of grants from the Main Street Fund; $1.3 million in Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund grants to 143 farms in 21 counties to help cover the costs of lost livestock feed and damaged crops; and an additional $3 million for communities in the Southern Tier to hire unemployed New Yorkers as part of the Neighborhood Rebuilding Corps program.

"The new law leverages tens of millions of dollars in funding for communities that are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee," Governor Cuomo said. "We must continue to work to make sure all those who were hit hard by these storms have the resources they need. I thank the members of the legislature for coming together to support this bill that will provide critical assistance to communities here in the Southern Tier and in other areas still rebuilding after the flooding."

Flood Recovery Grant Program

This week, the state legislature passed Governor Cuomo's $50 million flood recovery grant program to continue recovery efforts in regions of the state hit hard by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The new law includes the following support for communities recovering from the storms:

    · $21 million for small businesses, farms, multiple-dwellings and non-profit organizations that sustained direct physical flood-related damage costs not covered by other federal, state or local recovery programs, or any third party payers. Grants are limited to a maximum of $20,000 and will be provided to applicants that demonstrate the greatest need, based on available flood damage assessments provided by relevant federal agencies.
    · $9 million for county flood mitigation or flood control projects. The grants for each county range from $300,000 to $500,000; however, counties can jointly apply. Eligible counties must be included in federal disaster declarations.
    · An additional $20 million included in federal disaster declarations distributed on an as needed basis.
    · Permitting local government to let taxpayers impacted by the storms to pay their property taxes in installments.

The new law also enacts a job retention credit for businesses harmed by a natural disaster. The credit is available to firms with at least 100 employees that have retained or expanded their workers' roles during this time. The credit equals 6.85 percent of the wages of retained jobs and is targeted towards employers in financial services, manufacturing, software development, new media, scientific development, agriculture and other sectors.

Senator Tom Libous said, "I'm excited that we'll be closing out 2011 with another bipartisan agreement on flood relief. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in making sure communities affected by the flooding have what they need to get back on their feet. Together, we can show that government can work for the people."

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, "When the flooding brought so much damage and destruction to the Southern Tier, I introduced several pieces of legislation to make sure our communities had the resources they need to recover. I thank my colleagues in the legislature for taking up the bills this past week, and this funding will help businesses, families, and towns and villages get back on their feet and return to life as normal. It is remarkable what can happen when those in government work together and I thank Governor Cuomo and his team for their leadership in the storm recovery effort and for coming here today to sign this important law."

Main Street Fund

In November, Governor Cuomo announced that up to $3 million had been made available through the New York State Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund to provide money to Main Street businesses in some of the hardest hit areas.

A first round of these awards was announced on November 28, for Greene, Schoharie and Delaware counties, which received $1.5 million combined. Today the Governor announced the second round of these funds, in the amount of $1 million. Broome and Tioga counties will each be awarded $500,000. This funding will address the unmet capital needs of businesses and building owners in municipalities, including: Binghamton, Endwell, Vestal, Conklin and Owego.

The funding was requested by counties on behalf of businesses and building owners to help revitalize local economies. Eligible costs include: rehabilitating buildings for commercial and main street residential use, repairing and replacing permanent fixtures and equipment, as well as for inventory and working capital.

NY Works: Neighborhood Rebuilding Corps

Governor Cuomo today announced that, as a part of his Neighborhood Rebuilding Corps program, an additional $3 million has been set aside to assist communities in the Southern Tier rebuild from damage caused by the recent floods. The Governor has tasked the Department of Labor to work directly with localities in the region to identify projects and provide assistance in the clean-up and repair.

In September, Governor Cuomo launched NY Works: Neighborhood Rebuilding Corps to provide temporary work to several hundred unemployed New Yorkers for a three month period to assist in rebuilding and reconstruction efforts. This program was designed to build upon the Governor's successful "Labor for Your Neighbor" initiative where more than 2,000 New Yorkers heeded the call and signed up to help victims of the storm clean up during Labor Day Weekend.

The Neighborhood Rebuilding Corps program is funded by up to a $16 million emergency grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and provides temporary employment that will enable individuals to reenter the workforce by doing disaster recovery work. Temporary workers will be trained to perform demolition, cleaning, repair, renovation, and reconstruction of damaged and destroyed public structures, facilities, and property that are located within designated disaster areas. The work may include both indoor and outside work. Further, funds can also be used to provide equipment for workers.

The program not only functions to rebuild communities, but also to reemploy workers who are temporarily or permanently unemployed as a result of the storm. Under this program, New York State will hire part-time workers for approximately 20 weeks at an average wage of $15 per hour. Job seekers interested in the program can apply by calling the Department of Labor at (888) 469-7365. The Department of Labor is tasked with directly contacting the localities affected. Local governments may also obtain more information about this funding by calling the Department of Labor at (212) 775-3371.

Aid for Farmers

Governor Cuomo today announced that the Farm Operation Match program of the Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund (ACRF) will make $1.3 million in grants to farmers who sustained damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The grants will go to 143 farms in 21 counties. These funds will assist with the costs of lost livestock feed and crops damaged by the storm.

The Farm Operations Match Program provides a 50 percent match for the cost of replacing livestock feed, up to $50,000. It also provides a 50 percent match, up to $10,000, to help cover the purchases of fruits, vegetables, bedding plants, nursery and flowers needed to replace storm-damaged produce to maintain retail operations. The program will accept a second round of applications for costs incurred between November 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.

Darrel J. Aubertine, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture & Markets, said, "Many farmers lost crops that would have fed their livestock this winter. Others lost crops they would sell at their farm stands. This program is intended to help them with some of the costs they incurred because of that loss."

The Governor also announced that the fourth component of the ACRF, the On Farm Capital Program, will begin accepting applications. This program will help pay for capital losses. Eligible costs include certain minor structural repairs, permanent fixtures and equipment. This program will be administered jointly by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and NYS Homes and Community Renewal. Farmers interested in receiving funding should contact the Department of Agriculture and Markets.