Westchester residents and business owners have until January 28 to file claims and loan applications for damages from Hurricane Sandy — a holiday gift from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and New York State. Everyone is encouraged to apply online, via Smartphone or by telephone (contact information is at end of this article).
By December 20, more than 250,000 New York State residents — 5,536 of them in Westchester County — had registered for assistance.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives debated the $60.4 billion emergency aid package requested by President Barack Obama during the first week in December for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In a December 13 Washington Post op-ed, Governors Andrew Cuomo (Democrat), Chris Christie (Republican), and Dannel P. Malloy (Democrat) asked Congress to approve critically-needed disaster aid.
“This marks the seventh week since Sandy made landfall,” they wrote. “And Congress has yet to act.” Cuomo asked FEMA for 90 to 100 percent of recovery costs in disaster-designated areas. Usually FEMA covers 75 percent, with the remainder split between state and local governments.
Acknowledging the nation’s dire fiscal challenges, and expressing respect for “congressional leaders’ efforts to work with President Obama to achieve a resolution,” they wrote, “The request for $60 billion was diligently assembled based on conservative estimates of our states’ needs and is in line with supplemental appropriations approved after previous disasters for other areas.”
“The three of us have reached across the aisle and across our borders to work together during this crisis,” they wrote. “Congress must do the same and not allow this much-needed aid to fall into the ideological divide.”
Irvington officials are still calculating how much Hurricane Sandy cost the village, but Village Administrator Lawrence Schopfer estimates it’s at least $150,000.
“A lot hinges on how we handle the damage in our Scenic Hudson Park,” Schopfer said. “We are currently reviewing exactly how the damage must be addressed, so that can influence the cost significantly.”
The majority of storm damage was in the parks and waterfront — due to high winds and the overflowing river, rather than rains — and 20 of Scenic Hudson Park’s 100 bulk heads floated away.
“Besides the damage to Scenic Hudson Park (on the waterfront), the rest of our costs were associated with preparing for the storm, responding to emergencies during and after the storm, and cleaning up and collecting organic storm debris (branches, etc.),” Schopfer said.
Early estimates of $150,000 to $200,000 included overtime costs for village employees. Other Irvington parks, such as Halsey Pond and the Irvington Woods, also suffered damage in the storm. “We (village) just had an initial kickoff meeting with FEMA,” Schopfer said mid-December. “As we proceed through the process (with FEMA), the numbers will become more refined.”
Throughout Irvington, downed trees and wires shut off electricity to a majority of residents. Flooding was a major issue on Bridge Street. Many restaurants, such as MP Taverna and Red Hat on the River, sustained extensive damage from Sandy and are working to reopen their doors.
While the Irvington schools sustained no serious damages, schools were closed for one week following the storm while roads were cleared, and power was restored in the village.
Eileen Fisher LAB Store, which also suffered extensive water damage, told customers via the Green Eileen Facebook page on November 1, “Due to extensive storm damage to 2 Bridge Street and the Lab Store, all Green Eileen fall classes and workshops have been cancelled. We are busy rescheduling and adding new workshops for our winter-into-spring calendar.”
Its restoration efforts are ongoing, according to Kerri Devaney, Public Relations Manager, Eileen Fisher. Estimated financial losses resulting from the storm were unavailable.
“We don’t plan on moving to a new location; we’ll be renovating our existing location,” Devaney said, “(and) “we’re targeting a re-opening for mid February 2013.” She said customers are being redirected to the White Plains and Central Valley stores, and to the Green Eileen location on Central Avenue in Yonkers.
Reports of property damage in Tarrytown — two vehicles, some equipment at the recreation building, the boiler, other equipment — were submitted to its insurance company, with FEMA picking up the gap. The village continues to work on debris removal which, Village Administrator Michael Blau said, comprises the majority of post-storm costs, although amounts haven’t been finalized.
Tarrytown agreed to waive building permit fees for work repairs necessitated by Hurricane Sandy following a public hearing during its December 17 meeting. The Board of Trustees voted to retroactively waive storm-related fees charged by the Building Department, and payable to the village, effective immediately. Fees charged and payable to other entities that relate to storm damage repair work will not be waived. Visit www.tarrytowngov.com for specific information.
The Washington Irving Boat Club sustained little structural damage: carpets were replaced in the main bar and restaurant, and membership building (called Quonset Hut), according to Commodore Ken Fiala.
“We felt very lucky that there wasn’t any permanent damage to the buildings,” Fiala said. Heavier boats that had fallen off their stands were righted with help from Stiloski’s Towing, he said, and Boat Club staff used its own equipment handling many of the smaller boats.
“Most affected boats had minor cosmetic damage, several had damage to their outdrives (the part of the engine that sits below the boat), and we lost a few chairs from our outside patio,” he said. Luckily, no records or major electronics were lost.
“In retrospect, the club acknowledges that it could have been a lot worse, and thanks the hard work of our membership in prep for the storm,” Fiala said. “We also send our best wishes to those other clubs and communities whom lost boats, property and other assets.”
Now that the docks have been hauled (prepared for winter), he said, “At this point the club is ready for whatever challenges winter has in store.”
The manager of Striped Bass restaurant, closed until March 1, 2013, after sustaining five feet of water damage, did not return phone calls.
A kick-off meeting with FEMA and the state gave Sleepy Hollow officials an overview of what is eligible for reimbursement and how the process works.
Its three village parks were closed because of branches and downed power lines, and Sleepy Hollow’s waterfront was unscathed; the village took precautions and removed equipment before the storm. “Costs were in overtime, police, DPW (Department of Public Words), and debris removal,” Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio said.
Haunted Hayride saved the village money since the impending storm drew crowds the first two nights. “Sunday is double time for DPW and police, and many people anticipated the storm and came Friday and Saturday,” he said.
Three ways to apply for FEMA are online at DisasterAssistance.gov, via a Smartphone at m.fema.gov, and by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with speech or hearing disabilities. The agency asks that applicants have ready the following information:
• Social Security number
• Current and pre-disaster address
• A telephone number where you can be contacted
• Insurance information
• Total household annual income
• A routing and account number from your bank (if you want the disaster funds transferred directly into your account)
• A description of losses caused by the disaster