Last week, President Obama visited New York communities devastated by the storm, and pledged his support for their recovery. The President visited communities in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, promising to return in the future to ensure that the federal government has followed through on his commitment. The President also said that he has appointed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan as the “point person” to help oversee the rebuilding.
But the President did not provide any specifics on how this will all be paid for. Gov. Cuomo has estimated that the storm caused over $33 billion in damage and economic losses in the state, and he said this week that he plans to ask the federal government for $30 billion in federal aid. The state’s expected budget deficit for next year has already doubled to $2 billion as a result of the storm, and it won’t be a surprise if that rises even further between now and the end of the fiscal year.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is due to reimburse some victims and local governments for damages, but the agency has only about $8.1 billion available. Given the fiscal uncertainty in Washington D.C., it is not clear whether Congress will provide additional funding.
On Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo announced that small businesses that were impacted by Sandy in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City and on Long Island will be eligible for low-interest loans funded by the New York State Bankers Association. Businesses with fewer than 100 employees can apply for loans of up to $25,000, if they are located in New York City, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester, Nassau or Suffolk counties. Businesses can apply at Empire State Development’s website or by calling 1-855-NYS-SANDY.
On Thursday, Gov. Cuomo announced the creation of three new commissions – NYS 2100, NYS Respond and NYS Ready — that he charged them with “undertaking a comprehensive review” and “making specific recommendations” to improve the state’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities, and to improve the strength and resilience of the state’s infrastructure to better withstand major weather incidents. The three entities are tasked with making recommendations to the Governor by January 3, 2013.