Financial relief is finally on the way for residents along Lake Ontario.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to provide a total of $45 million in relief to communities impacted by the historic Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River flooding.
The legislation expands eligibility and funding for programs previously announced by Governor Cuomo and will provide vital assistance to homeowners, small businesses, farms, not-for-profit organizations, homeowner associations, owners of multiple dwellings, and local governments that have suffered direct physical damage as a result of the flooding. The legislation also provides up to $10 million to reimburse Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany counties for damages sustained as a result of the severe storms and flooding in July 2015, and for Monroe County for damages resulting from the severe storm of March 2017.
In addition, the Governor will be requesting an expedited major disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to unlock federal assistance for local homeowners, businesses, and governments.
Amid ongoing questions about the transparency and management of the International Joint Commission (IJC), Governor Cuomo has called upon President Trump to immediately appoint new leadership to the IJC, which is responsible for regulating water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The Governor is requesting that President Trump to replace the two sitting Commissioners and to fill a vacant Commissioner seat. All three U.S. Commissioners are appointed by the President and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
“By expanding eligibility and funding for these vital programs, we will help more New Yorkers get back on their feet,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new legislation underscores our commitment to stand by the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River communities every step of the way as they rebuild and become even stronger than before.”
$15 Million for Homeowners
The new legislation increases the original program size from $7 million to $15 million and the maximum award from $40,000 to $50,000 and expands eligibility to include all primary homeowners, as well as non-primary homeowners with income up to $275,000. Homeowners that sustained direct physical flood-related damage will be eligible to receive up to $50,000 under this program. Program assistance will reimburse homeowners for eligible losses, including repairs to and restoration of structures, equipment, and other physical damage.
$15 Million for Small Businesses, Farms, Homeowner Associations and Not-for-Profit Organizations
It also increases the program size from $5 million to $15 million and the maximum award from $20,000 to $50,000 and expands eligibility to include farms, homeowner associations, owners of multiple dwellings, and not-for-profit organizations, in addition to small businesses. Small businesses, farms, homeowners associations, and not-for-profit organizations that sustained direct physical flood-related damage will be eligible to receive up to $50,000 under this program, while owners of multiple dwellings will be eligible to receive up to $20,000. Program assistance will calculated at 50 percent of eligible loss, compensating eligible entities for repairs to and restoration of structures, equipment, and other physical damage and declines in revenue in excess of 15 percent as a result of closures or reduced business.
$15 Million for Counties, Cities, Towns, Villages and Special Districts
The legislation also increases the program size from $5 million to $15 million and expands eligibility to include flood mitigation and construction of resiliency measures in addition to infrastructure repair and restoration. Counties, cities, towns, villages and special districts that sustained direct physical flood-related damage are eligible to receive up to $1,000,000 for repairs to and restoration of municipal infrastructure and systems and up to $500,000 for flood mitigation, construction of resiliency measures, or flood control projects.
Sodus Point Mayor Christian Tertinek said, “Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, we have transformed the relationship between Albany and Upstate, and we are now working together to create opportunity and overcome challenges facing our communities, including the crisis on the shores of Lake Ontario. Today’s announcement is yet another example of the Governor’s commitment to supporting homeowners affected by flooding, and it will provide much needed relief for our residents, homeowners and farmers. I applaud the Governor and the State Legislature for this critical legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work together to deliver for our communities.”
Senator Pam Helming added, “Today’s signing of the Lake Ontario Flood Relief Aid into law is a critical step forward in the rebuilding of our lake shore communities. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and Assemblyman Morelle as well as my colleagues in the Senate for their partnership and support for this legislation. This crucial aid will provide essential financial assistance for qualified homeowners and their families, business owners, and municipalities who have suffered tremendously these past couple of months. I along with my colleagues were proud to lead the effort on behalf of our local communities to ensure they get the support they deserve from New York State and provide relief to our lakeshore residents.”
Additional Emergency Funding
The funding announced today is in addition to approximately $1 million in expedited funding—up to $500,000 for the Town of Greece and up to $500,000 for the Village of Sodus Point—to conduct emergency repairs and upgrades to flood-impacted wastewater treatment systems. The Governor has also signed legislation amending the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 to provide emergency financial assistance for municipalities to be available immediately. The amended legislation removes a 120 day waiting period, allowing municipalities across the state to access emergency loans.
No Wake Enforcement
On Sunday, the Governor also announced ramped up efforts to enforce no wake zones along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline. Multiple state agencies deployed additional resources to assist with local enforcement efforts, including a total of 20 watercraft and 42 law enforcement officers from the Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Division of Military and Naval Affairs, and State Police. As part of ongoing enforcement efforts, local municipalities may issue tickets carrying fines of up to $250 per infraction to recreational boaters violating the 5 mph speed limit within 600 feet of shore, which was announced by the Governor in May. The state has also launched a multimedia outreach campaign to ensure boaters are aware of and abiding by the speed limit. To date, state law enforcement personnel have made nearly 300 stops.
Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers
To continue the state’s efforts in helping communities recover from flooding, the NYS Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers continue to offer weekend hours throughout the summer. In addition, those who are not able to visit the Emergency Response Mobile Command Center can call the Lake Ontario Flood Assistance Hotline at 1-866-244-3839, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. through 8 p.m. for help with insurance-related issues, assistance with flood mitigation measures such as sandbags, and for technical guidance regarding on-site repairs to their property. To date, the state has assisted more than 2,000 individuals at the Mobile Command Centers, fielded more than 1,900 calls through the hotline, and DEC has issued more than 950 permits and emergency authorizations