Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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July 18, 2013

State to help flood victims

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It appears private property owners will get some disaster aid after all, from New York State rather than the federal government.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the state will provide $16 million to homeowners, business operators and farmers in five flood-stricken upstate counties that were declared disaster areas after late June rains but were denied federal aid.

Niagara County is to receive $2 million, according to Cuomo. Herkimer and Montgomery counties will get $4 million each and Madison and Oneida counties $3 million each.

“It’s a lot of money, but it’s your neighbors saying, ‘We’re here to help you,’” Cuomo said at a Herkimer County news conference. “When one person has a problem, everyone is there, one for the other.”

Cuomo said aid to individuals within the counties will consist of grants and loans equal to what they would have received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had it not rejected private loss claims. As of last week FEMA had agreed to reimburse only municipalities for their flooding-related property losses and cleanup costs.

While 12 counties were identified by Cuomo, and later FEMA, as disaster areas, state money is going to the five “hardest hit” counties only at this point, Cuomo said; the others may be considered for state funding in the future, an aide said.

The funding announcement comes as state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reported state revenues were $321 million over projections as of the end of June. The state budget totals more than $135 billion.

Flooding in Niagara County on June 28 was limited mostly to the City of Lockport, where hundreds of property owners needed basement pumpouts after five inches of rain fell in a few hours and strained the city’s sanitary-stormwater sewer system past capacity.

Mayor Michael Tucker was headed to Albany late Wednesday, to attend a conference today in the state capital regarding aid for private property owners. In a telephone interview, he said he got an invitation to the conference from Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development, who suggested the trip would be worth his time.

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