Tag Archives: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Flood-resistant buildings to be installed on Rockaway Beach


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of NYC Parks & Recreation

This summer it will be safe to go back in the water.

Improved beachfront structures that adhere to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) new flood elevation standards will be installed at Rockaway Beach by Memorial Day weekend, according to the New York City Parks Department.

These modern-looking lifeguard stands, comfort stations and offices will also be placed at Brooklyn’s Coney Island and Staten Island’s Midland, Cedar Grove and Wolfe’s Pond Beaches.

“We simply don’t know how high sea levels will rise in future years. Building higher will help these new public amenities stand the test of time,” said the Parks Department in a January newsletter.

Sitting on top of concrete piles, the structures will be seven to 14 feet above ground level and four feet above boardwalk height at seven of the Rockaway sites and eight feet at another Rockaway location. They can withstand another storm surge similar to Sandy.

The structures, designed by Brooklyn-based Garrison Architects, will be installed at 15 different beach locations. Each of the 17 buildings will consist of two modular units that will be connected by a bridge.

 

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NY extends deadline for FEMA disaster assistance programs


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

An additional extension has been granted for two government programs that financially help Sandy survivors in New York State, announced Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Anyone living in New York City and Long Island, or the counties of Westchester, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster and Sullivan who suffered losses from the storm, including rent, essential home repairs and personal property losses may be eligible for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will have until April 13 to register for FEMA assistance.

The previous deadline was March 29.

Survivors also have until April 13 to register with the Small Business Administration (SBA) for low-interest disaster loans.

Homeowners that apply may be eligible for up to $200,000 to repair or replace damages to their primary residence, and renters can receive up to $40,000 for replacement of personal property. Additionally, businesses and private nonprofits may be able to borrow up to $2 million for repairs and replacement of property.

To register with FEMA, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, seven days a week.

To apply for a SBA loan, visit DisasterLoan.SBA.

 

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FEMA extends housing program for Sandy victims


| editorial@queenscourier.com

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a 21-day extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for Sandy victims, Governor Cuomo announced Wednesday.

“The Transitional Sheltering Assistance program continues to be an essential resource for the New Yorkers who were hit hardest by Sandy,” said Cuomo. “This extension allows them to have a temporary place to stay and more time to get their lives back to normal.”

Through the program, storm survivors who cannot return to their homes can stay in participating hotels or motels while they try to find long-term shelter.

FEMA will call those eligible for the extension to notify them of the new April 14 checkout date.

To qualify for TSA, survivors must first apply through FEMA by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, via smartphone or tablet by using the FEMA app or going to m.fema.gov, or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362).

 

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HUD grants not enough say co-op, condo owners


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Co-ops and condos damaged by Sandy are now eligible for federal housing grants.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it will allow co-ops and condos to receive funding from Community Development Block Grants Disaster Recovery grants to help with repairs.

“We have finally cleared a bureaucratic hurdle that prevented thousands of homeowners in New York City and Long Island from getting the help they needed,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We have always said that condos and co-ops should be eligible for the same assistance as single family homes, and now they are.”

But leaders and local co-op presidents said the fix is just a temporary one. The root of the problem, they said, is still not addressed.

“This is a good first step. There’s no question about it. But it’s a band-aid fix,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners. “This still discriminates against families of co-op apartments.”

Co-op and condo owners currently cannot receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations.” The title makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants.

The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, according to Congressmember Steve Israel. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

“What we need is a permanent fix to how FEMA classifies co-ops and condos,” Israel said. “This is an interim solution that allows co-ops to access certain federal grants. But until FEMA changes the definition of co-ops, disaster assistance won’t be a sure thing.”

Co-op and condo owners will now have to battle it out with other retail developments, towns, villages and cities for the competitive grant, leaders said.

HUD allocated $5.4 billion to the recovery program last month. New Yorkers are eligible to receive about $3.5 billion of that total. The funds can be used to repair common areas in the building like lobbies, boilers and elevators.

Some Queens co-ops suffered $1 million in damages, including Cryder Point Co-ops, a waterfront community which has to repair its pier.

More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” Friedrich said. The co-op will have to shell out close to $300,000 for infrastructural damage.

 

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Sandy aid deadlines extended for FEMA grants, SBA loans


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The deadlines for two government programs to financially help Sandy survivors in New York State have been extended until March 29.

Anyone living in New York City and Long Island, or the counties of Westchester, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Sullivan who suffered losses from the storm, including rent, essential home repairs and personal property losses may be eligible for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Even if a person has insurance, they should register with FEMA by the deadline in case they later find out their losses are not fully covered.

Survivors can also register with the Small Business Administration (SBA) for low-interest disaster loans.

Homeowners that apply may be eligible for up to $200,000 to repair or replace damages to their primary residence, and renters can receive up to $40,000 for replacement of personal property. Additionally, businesses and private nonprofits may be able to borrow up to $2 million for repairs and replacement of property.

To register with FEMA, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, seven days a week.

To apply for a SBA loan, visit DisasterLoan.SBA.gov/ELA.

 

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Schumer pushes for co-op, condo Sandy relief


| mchan@queenscourier.com

New York’s senior senator has joined the ranks of leaders pushing for relief to storm-damaged co-ops and condos.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last Wednesday asking the agency to establish Sandy relief program guidelines for co-ops and condos.

Co-op and condo owners currently cannot receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations,” according to elected federal officials. The title makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants.

“After Sandy, FEMA was able to help many communities. However, due to inflexible bureaucratic rules, co-op and condo homeowners were left in the wake,” Schumer said.

The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, according to Congressmember Steve Israel. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

Schumer called on HUD officials to use Community Development Block Grants Disaster Recovery funds to help co-op and condo owners repair and rebuild.

HUD allocated $5.4 billion to the recovery program early last week. New Yorkers are eligible to receive about $3.5 billion of that total.

Some Queens co-ops suffered $1 million in damages, including Cryder Point Co-ops, a waterfront community which has to repair its shambled pier.

More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” according to Bob Friedrich, the co-op’s president. The co-op will have to shell out $250,000 for infrastructural damage.

And nearly 3,000 Mitchell-Lama co-ops in the Rockaways are forced to shoulder repair costs, said Dolores Orr, co-op owner and president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association.

“It is astonishing to me that residential co-op buildings are not being afforded any financial assistance in the recovery from Sandy,” she said. “We are homeowners just like those who live in … family houses.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 50. Windy. Winds from the West at 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Thursday night: Clear. Low of 28. Windy. Winds from the West at 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Dictator Game

The Dictator Game at the LIC Clocktower is a participatory game show during which audience members come onstage. One participant receives some money and has the option to share it or not. More power goes to the second participant and so on, making the exchange relationship more complex as the game progresses. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Cuomo may force city teacher evaluation deal

Governor Andrew Cuomo is threatening to impose a teacher evaluation deal on the city and teachers union if the sides cannot agree to one on their own. Read more: NY1

Flushing supermarket denied rooftop parking lot at busy intersection

A plan to put a 49-car parking lot over a busy Flushing supermarket was recently shot down by the city despite the support of local officials. Read more: New York Daily News

Attorney: Woman accused of subway push not fit

Defense attorneys for a woman accused of shoving a man to his death from a New York City subway platform are contesting a ruling that she is mentally fit for trial. Read more: ABC New York

FEMA disaster recovery centers end Sunday hours

The city’s 17 Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster recovery centers will no longer be available on Sundays. Read more: NY1

New York Times says China hacked paper’s computers

Chinese hackers repeatedly penetrated The New York Times’ computer systems over the past four months, stealing reporters’ passwords and hunting for files on an investigation into the wealth amassed by the family of a top Chinese leader, the newspaper reported Thursday. Read more: ABC New York

Arab-American groups call Coke Super Bowl ad “racist”

Arab-American groups have sharply criticized a Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad depicting an Arab walking through the desert with a camel, and one group said it would ask the beverage giant to change it before CBS airs the game on Sunday before an expected audience of more than 100 million U.S. viewers. Read more: Reuters

GM recalls 12,415 cars for possible bolt, airbag issues

General Motors Co is recalling 12,415 cars in the United States to address issues with what may be improperly tightened suspension bolts and faulty airbags, according to documents filed with U.S. safety regulators. Read more: Reuters

FEMA extends Sandy relief programs


| editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is extending relief programs for victims of Sandy.

The Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program, which allows those who lost their homes in the storm to stay in participating hotels and motels across New York, will extended for an additional 14 days, until February 9. Those who wish to participate in the program must be checked in by January 26.

“We remain committed to assisting all victims of Hurricane Sandy, ensuring that they have the shelter they need, especially in this cold weather, Cuomo said. “The Transitional Sheltering Assistance program will continue to provide shelter to those New Yorkers who do not have homes to return and help others with critically needed funding to rebuild.”

The Individual Assistance program, which gives victims of the storm funds to repair their homes or small businesses, will now have a 30-day extended deadline.

Those in need of assistance can apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov, via smartphone or tablet by using the FEMA app or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362).

 

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Law keeps co-op owners from receiving federal storm recovery grants


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A glitch in the law is keeping co-op owners from receiving federal storm recovery grants, officials said.

According to Congressmember Steve Israel, co-ops are shouldering the costs of repair for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations,” making them ineligible for federal grants — only loans.

The Stafford Act, which governs how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, Israel said. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

“FEMA is taking an overzealous interpretation to this,” said Israel. “It discriminates against co-op owners. It’s one thing to be devastated by a hurricane. It’s another to be devastated by a loophole.”

Cryder Point Co-ops suffered $1 million in damage that left their waterfront community’s pier in shambles, said Phil Resnick, vice president of the co-op’s board of directors.

More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” leading to $250,000 in infrastructural damages, said Bob Friedrich, the co-op’s president. The unbudgeted costs also include the removal of downed trees.

“Housing co-ops are not business associations. We do not generate income based on corporate or private profit,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “Many middle-class shareholders who are already experiencing financial difficulties will not be able to absorb the additional charges.”

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Gov. Cuomo receives high marks for Sandy response


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

In a new Siena College poll, the majority of New York State voters said they were happy with how Governor Andrew Cuomo has handled the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

According to the results, 67 percent felt that the governor has done an excellent or good job, 22 percent said he has done a fair job and seven percent said he’s done a poor job.

In New York City, a slightly higher percentage, 70 percent, gave Cuomo a high rating.

In an effort to help with Sandy relief,  the  governor is travelling to Washington D.C. today to lobby for about $42 billion that the state needs to recover from the storm and protect itself from the next significant weather event.

State voters were almost as pleased with how President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg handled the superstorm.

Sixty-one percent said that Obama did an excellent or good job and 55 percent gave Bloomberg the same rating.

In a Quinnipiac University poll from two weeks ago, New York City voters thought that Obama did a better job than Governor Cuomo, but gave him higher marks than Bloomberg.

But in the same poll, voters also rated New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s handling of the storm and its aftermath higher than all three politicians.

The Siena poll did not ask state voters about Christie.

It did, however, ask about the utility companies, FEMA and the MTA.

The majority of voters were pleased with FEMA and the Metropolitan Transit Agency, but gave Con Edison mixed ratings.

Forty-nine percent said that Con Ed did a good or excellent job, while 29 percent said the utility did a fair job and 15 percent gave it a poor rating.

Voters were not as happy with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which has received criticism on how it has responded to the storm.

Only one in six Long Islanders said LIPA did an excellent or good job with post-Sandy power problems, and 60 percent said it performed poorly.

The poll also asked about other aspects of Sandy, including how the storm affected voters—from home and business damage to school closings and power outages.

“Nearly one in seven voters suffered damage to their home, including one-quarter of downstate suburbanites. More than one-third lost their power, including more than eight in ten suburbanites.  And more than two-thirds of  New Yorkers saw their schools close for at least a day, and one-third had schools closed for at least a week,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg  “Not in a very long time has a natural disaster directly affected more New Yorkers than Sandy.

Additionally, the poll found that more than half of New Yorkers have made a financial contribution to a charitable organization raising money for those affected by Sandy, and 26 percent have volunteered their time.

The storm may have also forced New Yorkers to take global warming more seriously.

Because of Sandy and other significant storms from the last couple of years, 69 percent believe that they climate change is real.

Forums focus on frustrations after Sandy


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

BY MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE M. CULLEN

Nearly a month after Superstorm Sandy tore through south Queens, tens of thousands of residents are still struggling to restore their lives.

Councilmember James Sanders and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder held separate forums with area residents, featuring representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Con Edison and National Grid, seeking answers as to when their towns would be able to get back on their feet.

“I want firm dates,” said Sanders before his meeting at Public School 104. “I want to know when we will be made whole. I want to know when we’ll be back.”

As of the meeting, held on Tuesday, November 20, more than 15,000 people were still without power, according to LIPA.

LIPA representative Tom Smith stressed that utility workers have been in the area around the clock, working to repair electrical grids to get power back up and running. But the problem lies with the fact that many electrical grids were completely submerged under water during the storm, and making sure they are completely repaired has become a safety concern.

“We recognize it’s a bad situation,” said Smith. “But we’re not looking to exacerbate it by creating a fire hazard in your home.”

That same Tuesday night, Goldfeder, along with State Senator Joseph Addabbo, held their own forum at P.S. 146 in Howard Beach, where residents from the neighborhood and Broad Channel were vocal about some of the problems they still faced.

Many were irate, often yelling about response times, or walking out after hearing an unsatisfactory answer from officials.

“If I wasn’t the one standing in the front of the room,” Goldfeder said, “I would have been screaming just as loud because I’m equally as frustrated with the way things have gone over the last three weeks. I think what happened, people got a lot of answers, but not necessarily the answers they wanted or liked.”

Gary Robertson said his two homes in Hamilton Beach had lost power and he was forced to use generators to keep things running. He hired a licensed electrician to repair the homes, but was still awaiting Con Ed to come and install a new meter in one.

Robertson is most upset that he was told he would not receive reimbursement for the gallons of gas he poured into his generator, because, he said, he was told the outages were storm-related and not a direct outage by Con Ed.

“You spend all this money on everything else, you can’t get any answers,” he said. “I got answers basically from one representative that I saw and an electrician that I saw on my block.”

Another big concern for residents is with FEMA’s response time and communication.

Far Rockaway homeowner Cadim Ally has been working since the storm to repair the extensive damages to his properties – while at the same time cutting his losses.

Ally lives in one home in the area and rents out another. Both received significant water damage: Ally’s basement flooded and 13 inches of water rose above his first floor. Both houses were evaluated by FEMA.

“[My renter] had no home insurance, so they gave him a check for $9,500. He took the money, he’s gone,” said Ally.

When FEMA assessed the damages to his own home, because he is a homeowner, he was told to go through the Small Business Association to apply for loans. He did so, filling out all of the necessary paperwork, and after 10 days finally received an inspection. A loan officer will now re-evaluate Ally’s situation, and will either approve or decline his loan request. If he is denied, he will have to go back to FEMA and start his process over again.

“I’m actually sitting around every day, just waiting to hear. I don’t know what’s going on,” said Ally. “I’m filling out every piece of paperwork. I’m at a standstill.”

The need for a FEMA station in Howard Beach – and not just Broad Channel, where some cannot travel – was something Addabbo said came out of the P.S. 146 meeting. As a result, he and his colleagues are working to get an accessible FEMA center in the neighborhood.

“We got a commitment from FEMA, [we’re] just figuring out days and places,” said Addabbo.

Power is slowly being restored to the disaster areas, and residents are still doing the best they can do return to normalcy.

“We survived the storm. This was that 100-year storm,” said Sanders. “But can we do more? God willing, we can.”

Sandy cleanup to put 5,000 unemployed New Yorkers back to work


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A $27 million dollar federal grant for New York State is expected to provide more than 5,000 unemployed New Yorkers with jobs helping with post-Sandy cleanup, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday.

The funds, which are provided by a National Emergency Grant and administrated by the State Department of Labor, will go to the areas hardest hit by the superstorm.

According to the governor, the work will include cleaning and repairing damaged property and public structures, and those hired will earn approximately $15 per hour to work short and long-term projects. Workers will also receive help finding their next job.

“This funding will not only provide young people and the unemployed with the opportunity to participate in cleaning up and rebuilding communities devastated by the storm, but it will provide valuable work experience and on-the-job training that can be useful in future careers,” said Cuomo.

On November 25, Cuomo also announced that the state, together with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are going to launch a program to  replace FEMA workers, many of which are from outside the state, with up to 700 New Yorkers. These jobs will be full-time and temporary positions.

If you are interested in applying for a job under the National Emergency Grant, contact the Department of Labor at 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365) or by visiting www.labor.ny.gov/sandyjobs. You can also visit your local Disaster Recovery Center or One-Stop Career Center. You must be unemployed to be eligible.

If you are interested in applying for a job with FEMA, visit Governor Cuomo’s Jobs Express website at www.labor.ny.gov/jobs/regional.shtm.

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy. High of 46. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph. Monday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 36. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT of the DAY: Selections from “The Nutcracker” with the Ohman School of Ballet

Come to the Queens Library in Flushing for excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Christmas ballet “The Nutcracker,” performed in full costume by the Ohman School of Ballet. Dances that will be performed include “Marzipan,” “The Sugarplum Fairy,” “Waltz of the Flowers,” “Mechanical Soldier” and more. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Lowlife pigs robbed kids’ banks in Breezy Point

Sandy spared their children’s piggy banks. But some heartless crook did not. A Breezy Point, Queens, family still reeling from the superstorm returned home after Thanksgiving to find their ravaged bungalow ransacked. Read more: New York Daily News

Bronx man charged in Queens woman’s death

Police have charged a Bronx man with murder in connection to the death of a 22-year-old Queens woman who was unconscious in a parked car. Read more: Wall Street Journal

Damaged vacation homes not eligible for FEMA grants

Superstorm Sandy delivered the injury. Now comes the insult. Summer home owners, common in beach communities like the Rockaways, may be financially wiped out if they didn’t spring for pricey flood insurance because FEMA provides grants only for primary residences. Read more: New York Daily News

Cyber Monday likely to be busiest online sales day

Bye-bye Black Friday. So long Small Business Saturday. Now, it’s Cyber Monday’s turn. Read more: ABC New York

FEMA approves aver $664 million for Sandy recovery in New York state

The Federal Emergency Management Agency as of Sunday had approved more than $664 million to help New York state residents recover from Superstorm Sandy. Read more: CBS New York

LIRR, PATH and ferry service added

It’s getting a little easier to get to work in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Read more: Fox New York

Consumers to spend less if middle-class taxes rise: White House

A White House report says that if that Congress allows taxes to go up on middle-class families, consumers will spend $200 billion less in 2013. Read more: Reuters